SASH, the charity that helps to support young people who are facing homelessness, has put out an urgent call for volunteers in the Harrogate area.
SASH has been helping vulnerable young people to avoid homelessness for more than 20 years, by offering them a room in the home of a volunteer 'host'. Through its emergency Nightstop project and longer-term Supported Lodgings scheme, the charity supports 16-25-year-olds who need a safe place to stay while they find somewhere permanent to live. The accommodation is provided entirely in the homes of local volunteers and the charity needs more people in the Harrogate area to come forward to help.
Yvonne Dawes has been a SASH host since 2013 and in that time has helped more than 50 young people by providing a safe place to stay. She said: "People ask me why I do this. I do it because I can and because it could be any of us in that situation. It's a very rewarding thing and I'd definitely recommend it to other people. It's been a very positive experience."
Nineteen-year-old James recently stayed in Nightstop with Yvonne, before moving into longer-term accommodation with SASH. James said: "I was sleeping in a car after a family breakdown. Without SASH, I don't know what I would have done. I would have had to stay on the streets. I felt a lot more positive after Nightstop - I knew how to move forward."
Natalie Revell, SASH co-ordinator for Harrogate, said: "Many people are unaware of the problem of youth homelessness in this area. It is not as visible as adult homelessness as young people tend not to sleep rough, they stay on friends' floors or sofas instead. However, it is a very real problem which can put young people at risk of abuse and has a detrimental effect on their mental and physical health and ultimately their future life prospects."
Pete Dwyer, North Yorkshire County Council's Corporate Director for Children and Young People's Services, said: "SASH plays a very important part in reaching these young people as early as possible, so that their homelessness does not become entrenched and they can move on to a more positive future.
"SASH is also working with NYCC to provide Supported Lodgings accommodation to some of the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who have arrived in the county. These are young people aged between 16 and 18 who are applying for asylum and have no relative or guardian in the country. SASH's Supported Lodgings scheme provides them with a welcoming, safe home where they can learn to adjust to life in the UK."
SASH volunteers are fully trained and supported and receive expenses for each night they host and all young people are police-checked before being offered accommodation. There is information about volunteering on the SASH website at www.sash-uk.org.uk or call 01904 652043.