For some young people in South Holland, growing up means becoming homeless.
And, for whatever reason, the crisis point at which a teenager finds themselves on the street typically occurs at 4pm on a Friday.
They might fall out with their family, and it’s often the case there is a disagreement with a step mum or dad. More seriously, there could be some form of abuse going on within the family. Or they might be living independently and become unable to pay the rent. Or perhaps the boyfriend moves out of shared accommodation, or they are just evicted for whatever reason.
Whatever the cause, young people, some of whom are in the middle of A-level studies, approach an agency they think will help – South Holland District Council, social services, the Job Centre or some other organisation they are familiar with.
Those agencies will then refer that young person to an organisation called Nightstop, and South Holland District Nightstop has been helping the area’s young adults for the past nine years.
Co-ordinator, chairman and treasurer Brian Sapsford says in that time, the local Nighstop has helped 85 young people by offering them a secure bed with a host family for a maximum of three nights.
He says: “Social services do some background checks on them because, to protect our hosts, we are not going to accept people under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a history of violence or who want to use us as a bail address.
“They go through a referral form and the information is transferred to us. The Nightstop person receiving the call will contact the hosts to see if anyone is available.”
That takes care of the weekend and the immediate problem of where a teenager – they are mostly 16 to 18-year-olds – will sleep in the short term.
On Monday morning, the young person returns to the referring agency, which will sort out a longer term solution.
Brian says the scheme works well, and adds: “We are unique here. You won’t find another Nightstop in the UK – and there are 40 others – which is totally run by volunteers.”
The trouble is Brian and his wife Bryony would like to move back to Devon, where they have a son and daughter living, and spend more time caravanning.
That means Brian will retire from the local Nightstop, and so a replacement or replacements, if it is preferable to share the work between people, are needed.
Brian says: “We have been doing this for nine years and it would be a great shame to see it fold for the lack of support.”
To find out more about the work involved, contact 07947 786082.