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Nightstop 30th birthday bash packed
November 2nd, 2017
Homelessness charity Depaul’s emergency accommodation service Nightstop celebrated its 30th anniversary on Tuesday, 31 October at The Speaker’s House, in the Palace of Westminster.
The celebration brought together Nightstop volunteers and staff from the past three decades as well as MPs, Peers and funders in the historic house of Commons’ Speaker.
Sixteen MPs attended the reception including the Rt. Hon. Nick Herbert CBE who welcomed the guests on behalf of Speaker John Bercow MP. Other guests included Depaul International Patron the Duchess of Norfolk, who cut the birthday cake, and the Anglican Bishop of Jarrow Mark Bryant, a Depaul UK Trustee.
Depaul UK Chair Suzanne McCarthy told the guests how she would be going home that night to look after a young person in her role as a Nightstop volunteer host.
She said: “What I am doing tonight and what all Nightstop hosts and chaperones do is very simple, very practical and truly and deeply meaningful. And it is meaningful for those young people who are given a bed for the night because of Nightstop.
“What Nightstop hosts do is important for their safety, health and wellbeing. I am very pleased and humbled to count myself among the Nightstop hosts and other volunteers within this group and throughout the country. . . I hope that other countries will take what we have developed to help young people who are homeless there.”
Depaul UK CEO Martin Houghton-Brown said that Nightstop UK, which receives support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery among other funders, received rapturous applause after saying: “It is appropriate to say you are ‘grand’ people because Nightstop was founded in Yorkshire. There are more volunteers in this room than there are the great and the good. Members of parliament and funders are wonderful people but, quite frankly, the volunteers are the grand people in the room.”
Long-serving Nightstop volunteer host Mollie Somerville from Bradford, who has hosted for Nightstop for 23 years, providing more than 2,000 bed-nights for young homeless people, said: “All those years ago, we heard about Nightstop, had a spare room and so we started. With the young people who stay today, it is usually because of family breakdown.
“People say to me that I’m brave and courageous but I am not at all. The risk assessment is done and you know what to expect.”
Last year, the Nightstop network gave 1,400 young people a safe place to stay in more than 600 volunteer households, providing more than 12,000 beds for the night.
Early this year, a Nightstop service was also launched in Toronto, Canada, with the support of Nightstop UK.