A LONG-STANDING charity is appealing for more people to become temporary hosts for homeless young people across the Bradford district.
Bradford Nightstop, which receives referrals for young people aged 16 to 25 who need emergency shelter, has been operating for nearly 21 years and provided over more than 500 bed spaces last year.
The group wants to recruit more volunteers to help support its Nightstop plus project, which would see a homeless person aged 16 to 19 stay with the same hosts for up to three weeks.
Nightstop development worker Corine Campbell said the charity was constantly dealing with new referrals, and wanted to widen the range of hosts involved in the programme.
"We have a lot of different people involved as hosts, from young single people to retired couples," she said.
"People just need the ability to listen and empathise with young people.
"There can be a hesitancy to get involved, but once new hosts meet our current volunteers, the whole process becomes much more comfortable.
"The decision to host is always their choice, and in over 20 years, we've never had an incident to cause any alarm."
The charity is currently in the third year of a five-year £230,000 grant from the Big Lottery Fund, with funding earmarked to support the Nightstop plus scheme.
This service is fully dependant on volunteers, single people or couples, willing to open their homes to offer a bed, an opportunity for a shower or bath, and a meal to a young homeless person.
Janice Thorpe, of Shipley, has acted as a host since joining the project in September 2012.
"There's always an initial doubt in your mind about opening your house to strangers, but it's been great," she said.
"Once you're over that first hurdle, it's a really rewarding experience.
"They are just vulnerable young people who need a place a stay, and I'd recommend people give hosting a go."
Graham Walsh and his wife Viv got involved in the project six years ago after being left with a spare room when their children left home.
"We had a spare room, and it seemed a bit selfish not to use it," he said.
"The young people who have stayed here have been a delight, and would completely change any stereotypes people may have."
Volunteers are reimbursed with expenses of around £15 per night, and all young people are fully risk-assessed before being placed with hosts, who are always contacted in advance.
Full training is also provided, with induction sessions for new volunteers starting this week.
Tonight's session, an induction for new hosts, takes place at Manningham Mills, on Lilycroft Road, from 6pm to 9pm, with sessions on safeguarding tomorrow night, telephone referrals on Wednesday, and hosting on Thursday.
For more information, contact Nightstop on (01274) 776888.