I’ve been the recipient of being taken into a home as a stranger when I needed help, so I know the difference it can make.

“I’ve had quite a colourful life. I came to Hull fleeing an abusive relationship. I had no support system other than my daughter who lived here.

In 2014, at the age of 64 I learned that I am autistic and I know that a lot of autistic people end up on the streets, particularly as they get older. And in the years that I’ve been in Hull, I’ve been more and more aware of the homeless problem.

Then I saw SASH on Look North.  Since I live alone and I’ve got a spare room, I couldn’t justify having a house to myself when I knew that there were people out there who needed a bed. So I thought well that’s the way to go for me. I got in touch, I did the DBS checks, went to the training sessions and started doing Nightstop.

Taking in strangers in wasn’t an issue for me, it tends to be what I do, but I’ve also been the recipient of being taken into a home as a stranger when I needed help, so I know the difference it can make.

My family were really concerned, they thought I was just going to have people in off the streets, but they know now that SASH checks people before they offer Nightstop.

I’ve had two people come to stay so far. They were both 17. I was surprised how considerate they were. Consideration for me was the last thing I would have expected in their situation. They were so well mannered and undemanding. They were very polite, I think because I’m old they just saw me as a granny type!

In both cases there had been a breakdown in their relationships with their girlfriend. They were very different people, from very different backgrounds. One was a real waif. He was pretty dishevelled when he came. I think he had been rough sleeping, and one of the reasons he accepted Nightstop was because he absolutely feared going to a particular hostel in the city. I think he must have been there before, to have had that kind of fear.

The second lad was confident and very determined. He kept saying how I reminded him of his nana, and when he left he gave me a hug!

They just needed a break and after that they both resolved it by going to a friend or extended family.  So this really was just a stop-gap, that’s all that was needed.

When they arrive, they tend to just want to find their own space, stay in their room. I listen, I don’t ask questions, just go with the flow. If they want to tell me something then that’s fine, but I’m not going to ask questions.

I was doing all sorts of crazy things at 17. I learnt some hard lessons, but I have no doubt that my life experience has allowed me to empathise with others.

I have enjoyed doing this. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who has a spare room. I would do much more if I could. I would open up my house and have bunkbeds if I could. There is definitely a need here.”





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