Staying Safe: An Evaluation of Nightstop Services

Depaul UK

by Emma Insley, Insley Consulting

Executive Summary: There are 40 Nightstop services in the UK that provide an opportunity for a young person (age 16-25) who is homeless to stay with a volunteer host, in their home, for one night to around three weeks, whilst family reconciliation work is undertaken and/or more settled accommodation is secured.

The primary aim of Nightstop is to prevent young people from rough sleeping or staying in unsuitable temporary accommodation. Nightstop provided 8,166 bed nights in 2010 to 2,033 young people. The services have seen an 18 per cent increase in the number of bed nights provided from 2009 to 2010 in a context of rising youth homelessness and record levels of youth unemployment. Depaul Nightstop UK is the umbrella body for Nightstop services.

This report is an evaluation of six Nightstop services: Sussex, Gloucestershire, Halton (Runcorn and Widnes), North East, Ynys Môn (The Isle of Anglesey) and Edinburgh. In order to generate feedback on the service and evaluate outcomes attained we distributed questionnaires to volunteer hosts and the young people who stayed with them in a two-week period and undertook telephone interviews with young people who had previously stayed with Nightstop.

Most young people are referred to Nightstop because of family breakdown; our research confirmed that almost half of the young people who stay with a host were thrown out of their family home. Most had been living with friends (sofa surfing) or rough sleeping prior to their stay with Nightstop.

The young people we spoke to highlighted the stress and anxiety caused by their living situation, with more than three quarters stating that they had at least one psychological condition – 13 out of 18 said they had experienced depression. Half were trying to sustain training, education or hold down a job whilst dealing with their homelessness.

Three quarters of young people we surveyed said that the biggest benefit of Nightstop was somewhere safe to stay. Three (out of 18) young people slept rough immediately before coming to Nightstop and half said that they would have stayed on the streets if Nightstop were not available.