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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Scheme cuts young homeless numbers
Homeless generic
Nightstop has kept people off the streets
The number of homeless youngsters on the streets of Wrexham has been reduced after the introduction of a temporary family scheme.

The Nightstop initiative is widely regarded as a lifeline for 16 to 25-year olds who find themselves with nowhere to go.

David Prince, Nightstop co-ordinator
David Prince helps to train hosts

Fully trained hosts will offer them a room with a key for privacy, an evening meal and breakfast the next morning.

The scheme, which is the first to be launched in Wales, was set up by Barnardos and has received 150,000 funding from the Welsh Office.

Co-ordinator David Prince said the scheme provided a vital service.

"It's emergency accommodation for people who are unable to return home.

"They had to leave home, whether it be for domestic abuse, physical or mental abuse."


Some young people have been abused but don't want to tell people about that

David Prince Nightstop

Under present housing legislation there is little help for teenagers who find themselves with nowhere to go.

Nightstop is widely recognised as the only thing stopping them from turning to a life on the streets.

Youngsters under 16 will be taken in by social services but for those under 18 they need to have a guarantor before they can be given a council house.

Mr Prince said that can prove difficult:

"If they cannot get on with their family they may not have somebody who can vouch for them, therefore they cannot be given a home.

Prostitution

Nightstop was set up across the UK in 1987, however, it has only been running in north east Wales since last November.

Six youngsters have been accommodated through the scheme so far and there are three fully trained hosts available to offer a room.

All hosts are fully vetted and police checks are carried out before they can be trained to participate in the scheme.

Nightstop volunteers do not get paid for offering shelter but they do receive 7.50 towards the cost of electricity, an evening meal and breakfast.

Mr Prince said it is important that youngsters have someone to turn to.

Nightstop leaflet
More volunteers are needed

"It's just someone who you can talk to without being on a street corner on your own and getting into drugs, alcohol or prostitution.

"Some young people have been abused but don't want to tell people about that.

"Simply having someone who they can talk to in the living room at night might make them blurt it all out."

He said some people interested in hosting get the wrong idea.

"They have an impression of homelessness as it's the drunk in the doorway with a can of lager in his hand.

"I have to explain to hosts that's not what they're going to get.

"They're going to get a young person who's very, very frightened, very vulnerable and going through an extreme crisis in their life.

"For 16 to 18-year-olds there is nothing, we are the only thing stopping them from going on the streets.


More news from north east Wales
See also:

21 Mar 02 | N Ireland
13 Mar 02 | UK Politics
27 Feb 02 | Scotland
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