I started hosting about four years ago. I’ve had about 13 girls come to stay I think.
I first heard about SASH via a friend in Richmond. We were talking about teenagers and their problems and he said SASH needed volunteers. When I heard about it I thought this was something I could do. I’m getting older and I can’t do what I used to do but one thing I can do is look after people.
I have three children of my own, all close in age so I know how hard the teenager years can be. We had some tough times but we got through it. I understand the stresses and strains families have to deal with.
“I would recommend this to others”
I’m used to people coming and going. I’ve always opened my home to people. When we first moved here from London over 20 years ago, we had lots of people to come and stay. We always had the kids’ friends to stay so it’s something I’m used to.
When I first enquired about hosting I wasn’t apprehensive about it, but my children were. I was newly widowed and they were a bit concerned, so it was they who stipulated I only take girls. They’re OK with it now. My daughter in law says if she were homeless she’d want to come to me!
I do enjoy having the girls to stay. Some of them want to sit and talk, others don’t. I just leave it up to them. If they want to be alone, they can be alone, if they want to be a part of my family, they can.
I had one girl who hardly said a word. She was only a young girl, no more than 16 or 17. She’d had a bereavement, that’s why she was there. I think everything just caved in on her. All the time she was here she was crying, she wouldn’t talk, there was nothing I could do.
She stayed for four days. At the end of it she slung her arms around me and said thank you so much for what you have done. I didn’t feel I’d done anything, but she said I’d given her time to get herself together.
What motivates me is just helping people through whatever they’re going through, just being there for them. I’m that type, I like to help. And this is nice because I’m not doing it all the time, it’s now and then so it doesn’t put a great strain on me.
I would recommend this to others. If you are caring but you are able to draw back, if you understand the limitations of what you can do. It is very rewarding that you have done your part along the process, even if you don’t know what happens to them afterwards.