Ben, 17, has been hiding his sexuality from his dad for sometime. One day, a neighbour saw Ben with his boyfriend, Nick, at the park and told Ben’s dad about what they saw. Ben’s dad insisted that he breakup with Nick because he refused to have a queer son and would not have someone like that in his house. Ben lied about breaking up with Nick to buy himself some time and looked for a way to get out of the house. Ben found Nightstop and was able to stay with a host family as he and the Nightstop team worked on solidifying plans for Ben to move in with his aunt.
This is just one of many stories that show off the importance of the Nightstop program.
What is Nightstop?
Nightstop is a shelter diversion program that provides young people ages 16-26 with a bed to stay for the night in a time of crisis. Nightstop is a Canadian adaptation of the preventative work that Depaul, a charity in the United Kingdom, has been successfully doing for over 30 years.
Vetted and approved volunteers welcome young people into their home and provide them with a warm and safe place to stay. Using these volunteers’ spare rooms in a positive environment makes a huge difference to young people in crisis.
Nightstop prevents young people from:
- sleeping on the streets
- couch surfing
- staying in unsuitable accommodations where they would be at risk of abuse.
In 2017, 360°kids brought the program to York Region, Ontario. Though still in the pilot phase, Nightstop Canada has had 63 referrals and served 16 young people with 192 bed nights.
Raising the Roof has partnered with 360°kids to evaluate the program and ensure it is suited for the Canadian context.
The Nightstop Evaluation was part of Ready. Set. Experiment: a learning journey part of the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th Anniversary. This process was guided CKX and funded by the McConnell Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, and the Government of Canada.
The Nightstop Final Report was developed to share what Raising the Roof and 360°kids learned about Nightstop in a Canadian context and the opportunities this program provides.
The program is working well in York Region, here are our main findings:
- 85% of youth respondents to an online survey rated their overall experience with Nightstop to be very good;
- Prior to Nightstop, 33% of youth said their mental health was good or very good;
- After Nightstop, 83% of youth said their mental health was good or very good;
Youth Mental Health
Before Nightstop After Nightstop
Fig 1: percentage of surveyed young people who reported their mental health to be good or very good
- All respondents attributed their change in mental health to Nightstop;
- 71% of youth said their experience in the volunteer host’s homes was comfortable.
However, some changes needed to be made to better suit the York Region’s context.
- Host volunteers are also trained as drivers to be able to pick up and drop off young people when they can;
- Internet usage agreement to be signed when young people are at a volunteer’s home for over a week; for some young people the Internet is the only way to connect with their social circle;
- 83% of host respondents to an online survey noted that youth having to take their belongings with them every day is a limitation of the program;
Want to read Nightstop Evaluation Report?
What is next?
Our pilot evaluation process has been completed. Raising the Roof will continue to support 360° Kids with Nightstop and the development of a long-term model (Supportive Lodging). If you want to know more about it, feel free to visit the Nightstop program page on 360°kids website.