FEATURE: Charity appeal for hosts to offer spare rooms to help troubled teens

Herts Young Homeless

Herts Young Homeless - Credit: Archant

Most parents say they yearn for the day when their teenage offspring fly the nest and they can say goodbye to adolescent angst.

But a charity which reaches out to help young people who need a roof over their heads is appealing for hosts with experience of teenage tension to open their homes to complete strangers.

Herts Young Homeless helps troubled youngsters between the ages of 16 and 24 by offering them a bed for the night, or for longer.

Their successful Crashpad service relies on volunteers putting forward spare rooms for people to stay in when they are having a tough time at home.

Volunteers, known as hosts, are paid £23.73 a night towards costs and must provide a room for the young person as well as breakfast and dinner.

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They have 24/7 access to staff at the Crashpad service in case anything should happen.

The aim of the scheme, which launched in 2003, is to provide a bit of breathing space between families and prevent young people sleeping on the streets.

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It has offered almost 8,000 nights of accommodation since it was first set up.

The charity says it really works – but at the moment there are just two hosts on the books to cover the whole of Stevenage and North Herts, offering a total of three beds between them.

Crashpad officer Kylie Henderson said: “Crashpad enables young people to stay in a safe environment while we look at their housing options.

“It is a vital service which I love being a part of as without it, who knows where these young people would stay. Crashpad can be a small stepping stone in helping build a brighter future for our service users.

“Volunteers who offer a bed space can expect to get a lot more in return than they might think.”

One 17-year-old boy who has used the service knows all about the way it can help families going through a rough patch.

He said: “When I went to Herts Young Homeless after my mum told me to get out, I didn’t know where I was going to stay that night.

“The worker I saw took my details and asked me lots of questions and even wanted to talk to my mum.

“She explained I could be referred to Crashpad emergency accommodation.

“I really didn’t want to go in with a stranger, I was worried I wouldn’t like them or they wouldn’t like me.

“I didn’t know what I was going say to them or even what to expect.

“When I arrived, I was nervous. The hosts showed me round their home and then they made me a cup of tea and we chatted.

“They reminded me of the Crashpad rules and explained some of the house rules, this helped so we all knew what to expect from each other.

“After a few days I was more comfortable in the placement and I got to know my hosts better. I was offered breakfast, given dinner and they even let me make my own packed lunch for my apprenticeship.

“I did find it easy to talk to my hosts once I settled in. I did find it hard sometimes having to be in at the time we had agreed but, other than that, the four weeks I stayed with the hosts went really quickly.

“I couldn’t have carried on with my apprenticeship if they had not offered me the placement with them. I’m so grateful that someone was kind enough to give up a room for me.

“After being away from my mum for a couple of weeks we started talking again and we were referred to mediation.

“When my mum first kicked me out, I didn’t think we would ever talk again.

“I’m back home now and mum and I are working on talking to each other better.”

For more about Herts Young Homeless call 01707 251403 or visit www.hyh.org.uk.

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