Denise and Brian
Denise and Brian live in Selby have been SASH hosts since 2013.
We moved in to this house two years ago and it had a spare bedroom, and I wanted it to be for someone to sleep in, not just get filled up with junk! Some time later I saw an article in the paper, asking for volunteers who had a spare room to help look after young homeless people.
I wanted to do it but Brian wasn’t convinced at first. Then he looked on the website and saw how others had felt the same until they’d tried it and they’d found it fine. We have two daughters of our own, and we thought if anything had happened to them, we’d have liked someone to take them in.
We didn’t really know what the young people would be like, we thought more about their need. They can be lost at that age, they need that little bit of helping hand. We have old age on our side, we can understand where they are .
Because you have to be checked out, and trained, and we were trusted to do this, to me it was an honour to do it. The first young person who arrived to stay with us was very upset. She couldn’t understand why she was in this position; she was a bit embarrassed going into a stranger’s house. I told her we were pleased to have her and tried to make her feel welcome.
All the young people are different. Some are very unsure, they don’t know what they’re doing, others are more confident and take it in their stride. Some are wondering what’s going to happen next, but I just assure them that they’re known about now, they’re in the system so they would be dealt with, and for the moment they had somewhere to sleep while they got some help.
Hosting is not difficult, it’s a pleasure. The hardest part is that because it’s emergency accommodation, you don’t always know until 3.30 in the afternoon that you’re needed. You can say no of course, but if you’ve put down on the rota that you’re available you feel bad not doing it when you’re needed.
We had one young man who told us he’d never heard of SASH, and he just couldn’t believe how good they’d been to him. He was so thrilled. When he left he was off to Leeds for a place to live and work, and a bit apprehensive but he left here with a spring in his step.
One young man had been sleeping in the park and the railway station, so without SASH he would certainly have been rough sleeping again.
There’ve been some young people who needed clothes, because they arrive with just what they’re standing up in, and if they need to wash their clothes they need stuff to wear until it’s dry. We’ve been able to provide that because there’s a local charity shop that gives us items when we need them.
We didn’t realise we would get expenses until after we’d started. We’re retired and we thought we’d try it for six months and see how we managed, and weigh it up then, but receiving the expenses really lightened the load for us, it means we can do it.
There’s times when we’ve wanted to do more to help, but you have to remember with Nightstop that there’s a limit to what you’re there to do, you’re there to keep them safe for a few nights and someone else is helping with the rest.
One of the best bits about hosting is when they thank you, and they’re really pleased to have got help. I’ve seen one in town and they’ve thanked me, and another told me how they were going to their gran’s for Christmas, and that was nice.
We think its brilliant the work that SASH does. It’s nice to be providing just that step along the road to help them to something better. To be truthful, it’s been easier than we thought it would be.