Temporary accommodation for young people across Nottingham
Nottingham Nightstop is a scheme that provides temporary accommodation and evening meals for 16-25 year olds in volunteer family homes across Nottinghamshire. Accommodation is arranged on a night by night basis, but a young person can potentially stay with a family for up to 10 days whilst the referring agency continues to work with them to find more permanent accommodation. The scheme also has a befriending and mentoring service so that the young people can have ongoing support from a volunteer after they leave the host family's home.
The Nightstop Scheme was established in 2006 and serves the local authority areas of Mansfield, Rushcliffe, Gedling, Broxtowe, Ashfield and Nottingham City. It accepts referrals from the councils and other specific voluntary sector agencies in those areas.
The service does not accept young people under the influence of alcohol, drugs or solvents at the time of referral or those with a history of serious violence or sexual crimes. There are around 28 volunteer families within the scheme and they hold no waiting list. They have received over 900 referrals in the last three years.
Volunteer hosts are CRB checked and receive training and two home visits before they are accepted onto the scheme. Nottingham Nightstop is affiliated with DePaul Nightstop UK, who externally support and evaluate the scheme.
The project is funded by various trust funds including one from the Henry Smith Charity. They hope to develop funding arrangements with the referring local authorities in the future.
Key steps to establish the project
- 2 Local churches in partnership with Nottingham YMCA formed a charity called 58i in 2005 and began to look at creating a new emergency accommodation service for young people in Nottinghamshire.
- The annual snapshot survey of homelessness across Nottinghamshire by the voluntary organisation Hostels Liaison Group (HLG), 'Homeless Watch', provided key evidence for funders on the levels of need for the service.
- The group was aware that when the Nottingham City Council Homelessness Prevention Gateway came into force (it was established in 2007), this would restrict the access to emergency accommodation from bordering authorities and increase the need for a Nightstop service in Nottinghamshire.
- Volunteer host families were recruited through the network of churches and voluntary agencies.
- The charity pro-actively promoted the scheme with local authorities and voluntary agencies and assured referrers of their safeguarding policies and professional nature.
- Affiliating with a national umbrella organisation such as Depaul Nightstop UK is an important source of support and external evaluation. Their online message board is a useful forum for information sharing.
- Develop a thorough understanding of current levels of homelessness and the emergency provision available in your area. Voluntary agencies may hold additional data on this outside of government collected statistics
- It is important to develop good links with all referring agencies and local authorities involved because the service users still access their housing support and advice while they are staying with host families.
- Use established faith and voluntary sector networks to recruit volunteers.
- Get involved in local homelessness forums and groups to raise the profile of the service.
- Links to family mediation services are essential as this can help some young people resolve problems with their family and return home after staying just a few nights with the Nightstop scheme.
Nightstop’s experience shows that membership of a national partner organisation helps to establish standards of good practise, as well as in contacting other local bodies to assist with data collection, another important step in proving the need for non-statutory EA services. Links to family mediation schemes and local homelessness forums has been a key driver of Nightstop’s service provision; these links are complemented by contracts within the faith and voluntary sectors, which represent other important channels for support.