Charity appeals for South Tynesiders to help the young homeless

HOMELESS INITIATIVE ... from left, Bishop of Jarrow Mark Bryant, DePaul research assistant Chelsea Hall and Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, at St Hilda's Church.
HOMELESS INITIATIVE ... from left, Bishop of Jarrow Mark Bryant, DePaul research assistant Chelsea Hall and Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, at St Hilda's Church.

A CHARITY which supports young people who find themselves homeless has made a desperate plea to people in South Tyneside to help put a roof over their heads.

DePaul says more beds are needed to ensure teenagers have a safe place to stay while they are helped to get back on their feet.

If you have a spare room and there is someone who is homeless on the streets, think about offering that room to a young person

Right Rev Mark Bryant, Bishop of Jarrow

The charity is appealing for people across the borough who have spare rooms to step forward and help prevent a teenager from spending another night on the streets.

Chelsea Hall, research assistant at DePaul, which runs the Nightstop project, said: “We are aiming to raise awareness of homelessness in South Tyneside and aiming to recruit volunteer hosts.

“They play such an important part in helping young people who, for whatever reason, have found themselves without a home, to get back on their feet.

“In 2014, we provided 918 nights of emergency accommodation to homeless people in the North East.”

It is thought about 60 per cent of young people who find themselves homeless do so mainly due to family arguments.

The project is being supported by the Bishop of Jarrow, the Right Reverend Mark Bryant, who himself, along with his wife, has offered young people a room as part of the Nightstop initiative.

He said: “If you have a spare room and there is someone who is homeless on the streets, think about offering that room to a young person.

“The thing about Nightstop is the young people are checked thoroughly and there is support for both the young person and for the host.

“And the fact the majority of people who offer a spare room are older women, shows how safe it is.

“Myself and my wife have been doing this for three years now and we haven’t had any problems and we have really enjoyed meeting different people.”

For 19-year-old Brendan Wilson, the Nightstop project was a lifeline.

The teenager was living in a tent when he was told about the project and the help it offered.

He said: “Being on the streets is pretty horrible. You can’t sleep properly at night and you just feel as though you are worthless. That no one will give you a chance or will help you.

“After being told about DePaul I went to see them. They put me up in a person’s home, and while I was there they helped me with training courses.

“Just being in a secure environment just helped me to get my life back together.

“I would advise anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation to me to go to DePaul for help.”

People with rooms to spare who volunteer as part of the Nightstop project undergo training and all necessary checks are done by the project workers before a young person is placed. There is ongoing support.

The charity is also on the lookout for volunteer drivers.

Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, who visited the charity’s awareness event, said: “It is an absolutely fantastic project which is providing a vital service to our young people who have found themselves without a home.

“I would encourage anyone who can help a young person by offering a spare room to come forward.”

Anyone who can help is asked to contact 253 6161 or 253 6164 or e-mail nightstopne@depauluk.org

lisa.nightingale@northeast-press.co.uk