Anne, who lives in York, has been a volunteer ‘host’ for Foundation charity partner SASH since December 2010. By the end of the year, she had provided a bed and a hot meal almost 70 times, to 16 different young people.
Anne came across the SASH Nightstop scheme while she was looking for a volunteering opportunity after she had retired. The chance to give practical support to young people in the form of a bed for the night, an evening meal and breakfast the next day appealed to Anne as she describes her herself as “easy going, fairly quiet but I like people. I enjoy the company of young people, and I like listening to people.”
Did she have any concerns when she first volunteered? Anne admits: “I didn’t know if I would be able to sleep at night with a stranger in the house but I soon realised that they were more nervous than I was – as well as being homeless, they had to spend the night in the house of a complete stranger, so of course they were worried. Being a host has been a wonderful experience. SASH is always on hand to offer advice or support, and there’s an emergency number as well. I certainly couldn’t do this without the level of professionalism they offer. I get paid expenses for the role, which is important as I couldn’t afford to do it otherwise.”
Anne goes to the bus stop to meet the young people who come to stay with her. “They always look scared, anxious and cold when they are waiting to meet me. Then once they get here, they can get warm and enjoy being with an adult who they don’t have any ‘baggage’ with. After I had hosted a few times I realised the things we take for granted like a cup of tea or eating a meal together has been far from the norm for them. They have all been such nice, interesting people. The really surprising thing is when you hear their story, it’s amazing how they have coped and stayed so positive and pleasant.”
Those making it happen
In 2011, the Foundation awarded SASH £9,000 to support up to 190 16-24 years old through their ‘Short Term Emergency Accommodation Project’. People like Anne are volunteering and ‘host’ young people in need of accommodation and support.