Sometimes our Hosts support young people for more than one night.

It’s Satuday midday and Tim and I have just enjoyed a natter over a coffee. We’ve both agreed to get our heads down for the afternoon, college assignments in his case, chores in mine and then we’ve agreed to relax with a film this evening. What Tim doesn’t realise is that if he wasn’t here to set the example, I’d probably have settled down with a box-set.

Tim has been staying for 10 days, a longer spell than is typical for a Nightstop guest. When the Nightstop team enquired if it was ok to have him a while longer (the need for accommodation is often higher in winter), it was a straight-forward decision. Tim is polite, considerate and helpful around the house, as are so many we’ve been lucky enough to host.

Tim is 18 and used to live in the Caribbean with his cousins, grandparents and mum before moving to Bristol to live with another relation 3 years ago. We chatted about the transition over dinner one evening. He put it like this;  ”It was hard. I couldn’t understand what people were saying and they couldn’t understand me. I had to make new friends and learn my way round Bristol.” He talks fondly about his old life; making rice and beans with his grandmother and sitting on street corners enjoying the company of his childhood friends. But he’s not seeking sympathy. He has earned himself a place studying engineering at College and he’s got himself a part time job. Tim just needs a place to stay for a few nights.

Initially he didn’t speak much about what led to his current situation. That isn’t unusual. Sometimes young people want to talk, often they take a while to feel comfortable enough. Making gentle enquiries about their family offers an opening without being intrusive. In cases similar to Tim’s, intergenerational tension has boiled over or cultural differences between immigrant parents and first generation children have led to a disagreement. Most of us can relate to that.

Sometimes family mediation brings a resolution and sees the young person return home. On other occasions, a room is found in sheltered housing or private rental. Both can take time though and that’s where Nightstop comes in. They provide a short term fix whilst the council and other not for profit organisations find a permanent solution.

Nightstop found me 3 years ago. It was Christmas and I had planned to volunteer at a homeless shelter but by the time I got round to it, they had already appointed their Christmas staff. Instead they directed me to another homeless initiative recently established in Bristol. I met one of the team to discuss my circumstances and their vision. Many of my questions were answered there and then. Anything else was covered during Nightstop induction training where I was able to ask other hosts about their experience. By the end of the training, I understood the extent of my role and felt equipped to welcome my first guest.

Nightstop is certainly one of the best things that has happened to me in recent years. The Nightstop team are both an inspiration and a pleasure and the young people I’ve met both from Bristol and overseas have enriched my life. They have brought me closer to the city of Bristol, affording me an awareness of it that I may otherwise never have had. Perhaps a good summary is to say that they’ve given me far more than I’ve given them.

This blog is written by a Bristol Nightstop Host.