Local charity Herts Young Homeless (hyh) has launched a new emergency accommodation service for 18 to 24 year olds in a bid to combat rough sleeping in the county.

What makes hyh’s Nightstop Herts service different from other initiatives, is that the beds in the scheme are all provided by volunteers, who offer up a spare room in their own homes for up to five nights at a time.

"We’ve learned from calls to our free advice line that there is a need for Nightstop Herts. There is very limited support for the 18 to 24 age group unless they have additional needs,” explained hyh’s Operations Manager TJ Nicholls.

“The aim is to prevent young people from sleeping rough, 'sofa surfing', or staying in unsuitable accommodation where they could be at risk.

“They may have moved in with partners and the relationship has broken down but they're still working in the area so can’t go back home or they could need breathing space away from the family home because there's conflict, arguments or overcrowding in the house.”

Nightstop Herts currently has 12 bed spaces across Hertfordshire but hyh, would love to be able to offer more.

All hosts are given training and have access to a 24-hour helpline. They can volunteer as little or as often as they like and are always given the final say on whether they want to accept a young person.

Hosts are also paid a fee for each night a young person stays with them.

“It didn’t seem a hard thing to do to - letting someone sleep in the spare room every now and then,” said Nightstop Herts host, Sarah Hagger-Holt.

“It’s about recognising that everybody needs time and space sometimes. With family it can get pressurised, it can get difficult; there can be deeper-rooted problems as well.”

Nightstop Herts also gives hyh time to work with the young person, helping them access services such as their mediation team or those delivered by other agencies.

“Rough sleeping has been on the increase among young people since 2010,” said the Hatfield-based charity’s CEO Helen Elliott.

“Being forced to sleep rough or ‘sofa surf’ can be one of the most frightening experiences of a young adult’s life. Without appropriate support, not only can their mental wellbeing be affected but they can become trapped in a cycle of homelessness.

“hyh has a number of different services designed to prevent this from happening. Complementing the work of Nightstop Herts, we are funding an 18+ helpline providing housing advice to anyone concerned about their situation and rough sleeping.”

A donation of just £25 will fund one night for a young person in Nightstop Herts.

hyh’s scheme is affiliated to national youth homelessness charity Depaul UK who ensure the standard of all 33 Nightstop programmes across the country.

For more information about Nightstop Herts and how to become a host, please email nightstopherts@hyh.org.uk

Worried about housing? Contact hyh’s free 18+ advice line on 08000 355 775.

To find out more about Herts Young Homeless go to www.hyh.org.uk.