A YOUNG man has overcome serious debt, unemployment and homelessness with the help of a YMCA initiative.

For Stuart Ridewood, 23, of Bridgwater, a few days living with a host family through the Nightstop scheme gave him the foundation to get his life back together.

After doing night shifts at Morrisons for four years he struggled to cope financially with his income dropping from £1,200 a month to £800 when he changed to daytime working.

He turned to credit cards and store cards, borrowing money to maintain a lifestyle he had become used to and eventually racking up debts of £5,000.

Stuart said: “I sold off my furniture and mobile phone – I sold a lot of things.

“I couldn’t keep up with the debt and repaying.

Everything was maxed out – as soon as I paid everything out I didn’t have much left.

“I thought I can’t let it drag on as it would be £7,000 or £10,000 by now.”

As things spiralled out of control Stuart lost his job, was soon unable to pay his rent and ended up ‘sofa surfing’, which made it difficult to find employment.

He went to the YMCA in Bridgwater and was offered emergency accommodation with a host family involved in Nightstop, designed to give a young person in need a roof over their head for a short while.

With more stable living arrangements he was able to get another job – at Robert Wiseman Dairies – where he has now worked for more than a year.

He said: “I needed to be able to stay in Bridgwater so I could look for a job, and a friend of mine told me about Nightstop.

“My host family were really good. They’d wake me up at 5am so I could go to work and pick me up at 10.30pm after work.

“Getting my job was the turning point. I then moved into a flat and paid off my debts. I’m now looking to sort out my driving licence.”

Stuart has blossomed through living in his own home while still having access to the charity’s help.

With a new job, extra work shifts and determination he has almost repaid his debt and is looking forward to moving into an independent house share next week.

Stuart is not alone – in 2012-13, 39 young people aged 16 to 24 in West Somerset made a homeless application with the district council.

More hosts from the Minehead, Williton, Watchet and Dulverton areas are needed by Nightstop.

Hosts are normal families who can offer a spare room for a few nights with dinner, breakfast and friendly conversation to a young person in a housing crisis.

To become a fully trained host, email info@bridgwaterymca.org, call 01278-726040 or pop into West Somerset House in Killick Way, Williton, on Tuesdays, The Hub in Hopcott Road, Minehead on Wednesdays or the Town Hall in Fore Street, Dulverton, on Thursdays between 6pm and 8pm.