Filling empty nests!


It is never easy as a parent to have an empty nest and it often takes a long while to get used to it, but I guess you can see it as a sign of good parenting that your children have flown!

Ian and Sarah Beach from West Lyng did not have an empty nest for long. With their grown up family only coming back for holidays, they moved to Somerset to downsize, and somehow ended up in a 6 bed house! With more rooms that they knew what to do with, they decided to put the rooms to good use. Nightstop was the scheme they got involved with and they have not looked back.

Nightstop provides a safety net for young people that have nowhere to go, or no-one to turn to. Often through no fault of their own, these young people find themselves without a place to live, and Nightstop provides a safe place to stay for a few days until their housing or relationship problems can be sorted out.

“Without exception we would have any of the young people back” Sarah and Ian explain. “We found them pleasant young people who found themselves in difficult circumstances. Your heart goes out to them and you just want to give them some normality and an island refuge in their troubles.”

Nightstop is an initiative run by the YMCA and helps 16 to 24 year olds who are in housing crisis by arranging for them to stay with a Host Family for a night or two. A host family provides a spare room, evening meal and breakfast, and basic costs are reimbursed. During this time the young person is supported by Nightstop staff to find longer term housing solutions.

Cheryl Lowman of Taunton, has been a Host for 18 months and has welcomed 29 young people into her home over this time, some for one night and others for a few nights. She describes herself as over the years ‘never having had a quiet house’ so it feels natural to have young people around and says “it’s horrible to know they have nowhere to go. It’s not much to offer a bed and a natter. The young people who come are often upset because they are confused about their housing, they don’t know who is who or where to go, Nightstop helps support them through this. I just offer them a cuppa, show them around and we watch telly together and they start to relax. All the young people are scared when they come.”

These young people are transforming their lives, however they need a little help and support to do this. Nightstop Hosts are one piece in this journey, a piece at a vital time, keeping the young person safe, whilst they go on to transform their lives.

Nightstop desperately needs more host families in the Bridgwater area and the outlying villages. You too can fill your empty nest and use your spare room to help!
Many of our Nightstop Hosts are younger families too!

Come and hear more at Meeting Point at 6.30 p.m. on Sunday 1st September at St Peters Church Hall, Church Road, North Newton or for more information please contact Nightstop YMCA at or call Liz on 01278 726040.

Bridgwater YMCA, part of the YMCA Somerset Coast Group’s, mission is to open doors for the community to champion young people, creating and enabling sustainable opportunities for change and success. The YMCA has been supporting young people in Bridgwater since 1878.


Jerry Milton, Housing Advice Manager Sedgemoor District Council, says:

“Homelessness nationally and regionally has increased significantly over the past 2-3 years and young people are facing greater challenges in finding accommodation than they have ever done before. In Sedgemoor we have worked with our partners, such as Bridgwater YMCA, to try and tackle issue of young homelessness in Sedgemoor which halved last year against a back drop of rises elsewhere. This is due to a range of initiatives we have introduced over the past 3 years including Nightstop. It is vital that we continue to ensure that young people have a safety net in times of crisis”


Fact File:

** Nightstop has helped halve the homeless applications from 16-24 year olds:
2011-12: 61 homeless applications
2012-13: 33 homeless applications

** Nightstop families hosted 76 young people on 541 nights during 2012-13.

** 397 Young People approached the YMCA in Bridgwater for housing information & advice during 2012-13