Appeal to help ‘rising’ homeless youngsters

133033'Susan Atkinson,left who has given up her spare room more than 160 times this year to help homeless youngsters,with SASH Community co-ordinator Sarah Ware.'Picture by Neil Silk'26/07/13
133033'Susan Atkinson,left who has given up her spare room more than 160 times this year to help homeless youngsters,with SASH Community co-ordinator Sarah Ware.'Picture by Neil Silk'26/07/13

A charity has fired off an urgent appeal for helpers in Scarborough, to help combat the “hidden problem” of youth homelessness.

The charity SASH runs a scheme known as Nightstop, whereby selfless volunteers feed and give up a bed for the night to young people aged 16-24 who have nowhere else to go.

Last year, just under half of the 627 nights of accommodation offered by the charity was offered in Scarborough, making it its busiest location by far.

But the ongoing economic downturn, coupled with social problems such as family breakdowns, means that number is set to skyrocket - and the charity is pleading for more people to come forward to put a roof over a vulnerable young person’s head.

Mum Susan Atkinson gave up her spare room an astonishing 160 times last year, and says people needn’t be scared of inviting a stranger into their home.

She said: “The first time I did it, I don’t think I slept all night, but to be honest, they are more scared of coming into your home then you are of having them in.”

Susan first decided to give up her room after her son left to join the army. With another daughter, she felt that her family may be against it - but they have backed her the whole way.

“Everyone I know said don’t do it,” said Susan.

“But I’ve always thought about homeless people, ever since I was a little girl - If I go on holiday see a homeless person, it’s so sad that it ruins my holiday.”

However, the charity offer full training and support to everybody who offers to house a young person, and importantly, they carry out full background checks on anybody they look to house.

Community co-ordinator Sarah Ware said Susan was a “true star”.

She added: “Some people think that if they let them into their home, then they are going to go through their silver, but it’s not like that at all.

“These are vulnerable people, who are grateful for the help, and often just want a bit of warmth, food and a bit of TLC.

“Volunteers do not need any special skills, just a spare room and a willingness to help.”

If you would like to help, please call SASH on (01904) 652043.

For more information on the charity, and the project, visit www.sash-uk.org.uk