News that football star Gary Lineker will be housing a refugee has piqued interest in hosting schemes such as Nightstop, which houses asylum seekers, refugees and other young people facing homelessness.
Nightstop provides same-night, emergency accommodation, for young people ─ including refugees and asylum seekers ─ experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness, in the homes of well trained and vetted volunteer hosts.
The UK-wide network prevents young people from sleeping on the streets or putting themselves at risk of violence or abuse in return for a place to stay. In 2019, more than one in ten of the young people who accessed the Nightstop service were asylum seekers or refugees.
Leading BBC Sports presenter and former England footballer Gary Lineker, a long-time supporter of refugees, has said he will put up an asylum seeker at his home in Surrey.
Ian Forster, Senior Nightstop Network Manager at Depaul UK, said: “Asylum seekers don’t have recourse to public funds, and often have very few support networks. This leaves them extremely vulnerable to homelessness and abuse and many find themselves with nowhere to turn.
“By hosting through Nightstop, anyone with a spare room can provide a young person, with nowhere else to turn, a safety net to help them get back on their feet.”
He added: “We’re currently in the middle of a volunteer recruitment drive, as we have seen a drop in our volunteer numbers as a result of Covid-19. We encourage anyone to get in touch if they are considering becoming a volunteer host.”
More volunteers are needed to ensure that Nightstop can meet the demand of young people who need a safe place to sleep.
To minimise potential risk and spread of Covid-19, all young people accessing the service as well as hosts are being screened for coronavirus symptoms.
Where possible, households are also being asked to provide a safe place for a week at a time in order to minimise the movement of people.
Depaul UK – supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery – leads the national Nightstop Network, and directly runs five of the services in London, the North East & Cumbria, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Hertfordshire.
The Nightstop Network comprises 31 services covering a geographical area from Glasgow to Guernsey.
All Nightstop hosts are thoroughly vetted and given in-depth training and support to ensure that they, their families and the young person who stays with them are appropriately safeguarded.