Josie and Glyn
Glyn & Josie, who live near Malton, have been SASH hosts since 2012.
We found out about SASH through an article in the local paper. It explained what SASH did and how it was looking for volunteers to help. We’d heard about Nightstop before, and now it seemed the time was right for us to get involved; we’d retired, we’d finished the work on our house, and we had a spare room because the kids had grown up and gone. So we had the time, the energy and the space. We’d not done anything like this before, but reading the article made us realise the situation some people were in and we just wanted to help.
We were aware of homelessness issues already but didn’t realise how quickly it could happen. And with young people it’s more hidden. You’re aware of homeless people out in the street. But these are people who’ve gone to stay with friends, so you don’t see it. Some people say they’re not really homeless, but they are. They don’t have a place to come back to, no base, nothing.
We’ve had some really nice people; they’ve all been very different. It’s impossible to generalise about what they’re like – the only thing they have in common is that they’re all homeless. Some of them are really quiet and nervous because they don’t know what to expect, others are very talkative. Some just want to go to their room; others stay downstairs and chat to us.
We’re always happy to have them. We usually let them have their choice of what they want to watch on TV. It’s quite good sometimes to be taken out of your usual habits, to make you watch something you wouldn’t normally. It takes you out of your own world. The youngest person we’ve had is a 16-year old, the oldest 23 or 24, so we’ve had the full age range. There was one who we really felt for, he’d had a very troubled time, but he was such a nice lad.
The thing we’ve found most difficult about hosting has been the food. We try to keep different things in the house to suit different people, but some of them have a very narrow, restricted diet. Others have very large appetites. But nothing has really surprised us. Having had kids of our own, you know some of the things they and their friends went through at that age.
Because we live out of the way, we don’t tend to see the young people after they’ve stayed with us. But we like hearing that they’ve moved on to better things, when they have somewhere to live and things are going well for them. It’s also good to get the feedback that they feel comfortable here and they feel welcomed.
If we talk about what we do, some people say they wouldn’t want a stranger in the house. But SASH carefully vet the young people, so you’re not going to get delinquents in the house. You have to be sensible, you don’t leave valuables lying around and that’s covered in the training.
Without SASH, we think some of those who’ve stayed with us might have had to sleep rough. They’d been staying with friends, but had outstayed what that friend could offer, so there was nowhere else for them.
Being hosts is just so rewarding. These people are in a desperate situation, and you’re only involved briefly with them but it’s at a point when they really need that help, and it’s the starting point for better things.