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Open your houses to West Somerset's homeless
Families in West Somerset are being encouraged to take in young homeless people.
More than 150 people approached West Somerset Council last year for help with homelessness, which the new Nightstop scheme Bridgwater YMCA is running with the council aims to alleviate.
Volunteer host families are asked to provide food, access to washing facilities and a bed for people aged between 16 and 24 in return for training, expenses and the satisfaction of helping someone.
The Hope Centre, which supports homeless and other disadvantaged people in the town from its base at the Baptist Church in Parks Lane, welcomes the plan and hopes to be involved.
Support worker Sally Maclean said: “I think it’s a wonderful idea but attention also needs to be given to what happens when the time with the host families comes to an end.
“We might be able to help organise some host families – we have a members’ meeting in September, so we will discuss it then.
“It is the sort of thing that volunteers here would be very interested in helping with – they are very conscious of what is going on in the area and helping young people.
“Six or seven homeless people come to us for support at the moment but that number changes all the time.
“The majority of homeless people we come across are young. The reasons for finding themselves in the situation range from coming out of the care system, falling out with their families or suffering a relationship breakdown or not being able to live at home because their parents can’t afford it once their benefits reduce when the child turns 18.
“Alcohol and drug problems are common in both the young and older people we see and we try to help them out of the vicious circle by tackling these problems.
“Accommodation in Minehead is very hard to find, and there are lots of homeless people in the town, but we don’t want them to remain homeless long-term.”
The Nightstop scheme has already run in Taunton Deane and Sedgemoor and it is hoped it will begin in West Somerset by October.