“It’s about the sheer satisfaction of seeing a young person get a second chance, or sometimes even a first chance.”
I’ve been hosting for over 25 years now. I started out with Barnado’s and stayed when the service moved to SASH.
It’s been an exceptionally varied cross section of young people that I’ve had stay. The thing they all have in common is that they all need a breathing space. They all need a chance to gather their thoughts, make plans, be supported. Sometimes their families can’t do that for one reason or another; sometimes things have gone wrong; they just need to regroup and move on in a planned way rather than just be ejected from home and be sofa surfing with friends or whatever, or being vulnerable on the street.
Homelessness for young people I think is a hidden problem in Harrogate. There’s a dearth of social housing, the place appears to be extremely affluent and very nice, it’s a great tourist attraction but the same problems are there if you scratch the surface and in some ways it’s more difficult to address because housing is higher value and rents are higher. But young people are more likely to be sleeping on someone’s couch than on the streets and you don’t see it.
They are all nervous when they first come, they don’t really know what to expect. Once they start to relax and we get used to each other, they blossom. I’ve never had any real problems with the young people. I’m not saying there’s never been any disagreement, but I’m quite easy going and I think the young people find that they can talk to me.
All the young people vary, usually according to the reason why they are here. They all really have the same needs, somewhere safe and warm, someone who can listen if they need to talk. They don’t always all offload to me about everything and it’s good that they have the support that SASH give them.
I can’t speak too highly of the workers who support the young people and the host families. I could not do this without the support I get. There was one young person who stole from me, so she moved on. If there are insurmountable problems, SASH will step in rather than let it escalate.
Hosting isn’t always easy but then life isn’t easy, and it’s a lot less easy for a lot of these young people. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in seeing a young person progress. I’m not saying that every young person who stops here is a success story, because that would not be true. Some of the young people, especially the care leavers, have been so damaged that it would be hard to see how they could actually be helped any more.
But I’ve seen a lot of young people move on from here and make a good success of their lives and some of them still keep in touch. One young man went to university and is now a maths teacher. One or two of the young women that were here now have children of their own, and they’re managing a lot better than their parents did, so there is a lot of satisfaction.
It’s about the sheer satisfaction of seeing a young person get a second chance, or sometimes even a first chance. I don’t think I ever envisaged that over 25 years down the line I would still be doing it. I suppose I must enjoy it otherwise I wouldn’t still be doing it! It’s not for everyone. If you are the sort of person that likes a pristine home and can’t tolerate strangers than it isn’t for you, but if you have space in your home and your heart and want to help young people, I do recommend it.
I think the work that SASH does is amazing. When you see the young person making a success of their life, sometimes against an awful lot of odds, you think they probably wouldn’t have managed that without the support of SASH and the hosts would not be able to offer the services without the support they get from SASH.
I’d encourage anyone that is interested to find out more about it.