Our final story as part of our campaign to welcome new Nightstop hosts introduces Ian Hamilton and Claire Philip who joined the programme at the start of this year. They had been moved by experiences in London and Glasgow, and wanted to do something which was a practical way to support.
Ian Hamilton (35) and Claire Philip (37), both lecturers in Glasgow, became hosts at the beginning of this year after Claire saw an advert for hosts at her workplace in November last year.
On a subsequent visit to London on New Year’s Day they were shocked to see the amount of people sleeping on the streets, and this spurred them on to do something practical way to support people who are threatened with becoming homeless.
The couple, who live in Maryhill, Glasgow, attended an information evening about the project and watched a documentary called “Would You Take In a Stranger?” on Channel 4 about Nightstop in Newcastle to find out more.
Ian, a sport and fitness lecturer at City of Glasgow College, and Claire an ESOL lecturer at Kelvin College, had recently bought their first house after living abroad for a few years.
As they have no children, they had a spare bedroom and wondered how to put it to good use.
Ian said: “We were upset to see so much homelessness in London and we just started thinking about what we could do to help.
“The more documentaries we watched we realised how widespread this problem is across the UK’s cities and we decided to find out more about becoming hosts for Nightstop.
“We couldn’t invite random people off the streets to use our spare room so Nightstop was the perfect solution for us.
“They try to prevent the problem of homelessness rather than just provide a sticking plaster.”
Nightstop provides support, training and advice to hosts and they carry out a number of checks on potential service users to decide whether they are suitable for the project.
In addition, Nightstop checks the availability of hosts each month and the days are marked on a calendar from available (green) to some availability (amber) and not available (red).
Nightstop also makes sure that service users get adequate support and access to other services they may need.
Service users can have dinner and breakfast with their host if they want to, but it’s left up to them to choose.
Ian and Claire were hosts for the first time in June this year to a young man who stayed with them twice for two nights.
Ian said: “He was very grateful and a bit overwhelmed in a positive way.
“He couldn’t believe there were people out there who care and who would give up their spare room to someone.
“He wanted to learn to cook and we showed him how to make a few different things for dinner.
“Our guest also wanted to tidy up and offered to take our dog for a walk which was very nice.
“Hosts are encouraged to allow their guest to choose whether they want to spend the evening with them, study, or have time alone in their room.
“Basically, it’s up to them how much time they spend with their host.”
The young person leaves the house with the host in the morning and arrives in the evening at a time that fits in with the host’s schedule.
Nightstop triggers a variety of support and services for users and the charity strives to find long-term accommodation for them.
Ian added: “Nightstop is very supportive with excellent communication.
“They pass on any information that we may need to know about our guest before they come to stay.
“They also check in with you when a service user has settled in to make sure everything is going well.
“We’ve never heard of anyone having any issues and service users are just very grateful to have somewhere safe and comfortable to stay.”
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 this Thursday (24 October 2019). If you would like to attend please register via simonscotland.org/nightstopvolunteer.