The Nightstop concept is simple – it is the provision of emergency accommodation for people over 16 years old in the homes of approved volunteers.
Nightstop volunteers are ordinary people who are willing to open the door of their home to help people in need or who offer their time to help local Nightstop services in other ways. All volunteers have to undertake specific training before commencing their volunteering role with a local Nightstop.
Whilst Nightstop offers places to people of all ages about half the people who are referred to the service are under 18. A guest would usually stay with a host for 1 to 5 nights at a time. Should the person still be in need of emergency accommodation then it may be possible for them to stay with another volunteer from the same service. In some areas Nightstop services have developed their support to young people to offer such services as: tenancy support, mediation, preventative education work, housing advice, Crashpad and supported lodgings.
The first Nightstop was established in Leeds in 1987 and there are currently local Nightstop services in all of the nine government regions of England and in some regions in Scotland and Wales. Development into local communities within these regions where there is currently no provision of a Nightstop service remains a priority of Depaul Nightstop UK.
The first Nightstop service originated in Leeds as an initiative by local Christian Churches responding to the challenges highlighted in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s report ‘Faith In The City’ published in 1985. The service was two years in development and became operational in October 1987.
From 1987 to 1991 the vision for Nightstop spread to communities in Durham, Birmingham and Leamington Spa where further services were developed.
In January 1992 the BBC broadcast a television documentary ‘Entertaining Angels’ – the story of Leeds Nightstop and within two years the number of local Nightstop services had grown to ten.
National development was undertaken jointly by Barnardos and the Nightstop National Network (made up of local Nightstop services.) Barnardos funded the post of the first National Nightstop Co-ordinator who was based in Leeds.
During the mid to late 1990’s there was a rapid growth in the number of communities exploring the possibility of establishing a Nightstop service. In 1999 the decision was taken to set up a new independent organisation, Nightstop UK.
In December 2007 after consultation with and support from local Nightstop services, Nightstop UK became part of Depaul UK to become Depaul Nightstop UK. There are over 45 Nightstop services throughout the United Kingdom including two in Scotland, two in Wales and one on the Isle of Man.
Since 2015, 3 Nightstop projects have developed an Adult Nightstop scheme including here in the New Forest. In the New Forest, our project now accepts referrals for people aged 16+.