Zena and Gerald
“We can’t even imagine our sons coping like some of these young people have done, in that situation.”
We’ve been hosting for about nine months. We were just doing Supported Lodgings at first, and then started doing Nightstop as well. The first young person was in tears when he came to stay, he was so happy to be here.
We heard about SASH through the Harrogate volunteer centre. One of our sons was already at university, the other was about to leave, so we were looking for something to do. We’d seen a few things but they weren’t really for us, we wanted something more hands-on. Then we spotted the SASH volunteering. We’ve got accommodation and we’ve had language students staying with us in the past, so we were used to having people in our home.
When we first read about it, we visualised homeless people on the streets, but as we looked into it, we realised that wasn’t the case. They are just normal kids. And we’d actually had a friend of our son’s stay with us for a year, because he couldn’t live at home. It was the sort of situation where we realised, there but for the grace of God, it could have been our kids when they were growing up.
We can’t even imagine our sons coping like some of these young people have done, in that situation. The reasons for their homelessness can vary and could be a breakdown in relationship with their parents or their parents having health or lifestyle issues, or divorce and there is no room for the child. Nothing has really surprised us, having read the website we knew what to expect.
We’re quite laid back in this house, and the young people who come to stay are part of the family. They get the choice of catering for themselves or eating the food that we cook for the family, and they all want to eat with us, which is nice.
All they seem to want is some stability. They’ve had a lot of turmoil and they just want to know that they have somewhere to sleep tonight, they’re going to get fed, they’ve got somewhere to do their washing, maybe watch some TV and have their own safe space, but knowing that someone is on hand to help if required. Some have been allowed to drift in the past and they just need that encouragement to take up work or education opportunities.
You can’t take away what’s happened to them, but you can try and help them and give them a stable base to make a future for themselves. It’s rewarding.