The latest story in our series to profile just how much we need to recruit new Nightstop community hosts comes from Natalie* who spent seven years without a place to call home. Could you open your home and heart to a vulnerable young person.
Natalie* (22), was homeless for nearly seven years when she found out about Nightstop after she phoned the homelessness charity Shelter for advice.
Shelter referred her to us and we told her about our Nightstop service and she was accepted on to the programme.
Natalie became homeless when she was 15 after she left home because her relationship with her dad had broken down and her mum had passed away.
She had spent years of sleeping on friends’ sofas, staying at young people’s residential units, supported accommodation, B&B’s and hostels and even sometimes on the street, before she used our Nightstop service.
Now Natalie is studying for an HNC in Law at Motherwell College, she applied for the course with assistance from the Mungo Foundation.
After nearly seven years of waiting in Glasgow, Natalie was offered a house in Motherwell this March within a month of applying.
This was thanks to a lecturer who suggested that she should apply for a home in North Lanarkshire.
Natalie used the Nightstop service for 40 days over a few months in January to February this year.
She had a variety of hosts but she mainly stayed at two people’s homes because they had the most availability.
Natalie said: “The hosts were all really lovely, I spent more time with some than others, but I think there were only two hosts that I didn’t get to know very well.
“Even then, they were still great, very accommodating.
“The ones I stayed with for longer made me feel like I was at home, which was really nice.
“I think it just comes down to the safety, you do feel a lot safer in the accommodation that Nightstop provides.
“The council laughed at me when I brought up the issue of a broken lock on my door when I was previously in a B&B, but I just didn’t feel safe.
“I was living with heroin addicts and we had a shared bathroom and there was always needles in it.
“It got to the stage when I just thought I can’t stay here any longer.
“By the time I heard about Nightstop I was just so fed up.
“I wondered how much longer I’d be homeless for.
“I knew I wouldn’t get a house until I was at least 18 so I’d have to wait for years.
“I was worried I’d end up homeless my whole adult life.
“And it’s not because I’ve done anything wrong it’s just the situation I found myself in.”
Natalie was forced to give up her job as a charity fundraiser because she couldn’t take the buckets of money back to the B&B because she was worried the money would get stolen.
She added: “I’d encourage anyone who’s thinking about using Nightstop to go for it.
“When they first told me I’d be living with a stranger I was apprehensive but they were all lovely.
“It’s like a home away from home.
“Everyone is so kind and treats you with respect.
“One host let me leave some of my possessions in their house because they knew I’d be coming back and another left fresh pyjamas out for me.
“They think of everything. Some hosts give you a kettle and food in your room in case you’re too anxious to come out.
“Hosts always make sure you’re comfortable and have everything you need.”
Natalie can recall the date and the exact time she was given a house and now she’s focused on her future and passing her course in Law.
*Natalie’s name has been changed to protect her identity.
Deacon Blue singer Lorraine McIntosh is to host a no-obligation Nightstop Information Evening for people who are interested in finding out more about becoming a Nightstop host. It will take place on Thursday (24 October 2019). If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer.