Sleeping on the streets is not something most of us would want to do at any time but as we move into the worst season of the year for cold, rain, snow and biting winds it is worth giving a thought to how it would feel for us to be cast adrift from the safety of a home and the support of friends and family. At the risk of showing my age I will confess that one of my favourite songs of all time is Bob Dylan’s Shelter from the Storm and last night as the splendidly named Blawbag was blasting its way through Scotland I was in Blackburn celebrating the opening of a new building. I was there in my capacity as Chairperson of a truly remarkable charity that I am proud to be associated with.
Nightsafe has for over 20 years provided not just shelter and accommodation for young people, who for what ever reason find themselves homeless and struggling, but has helped the young people who have come through the doors to make the best of their lives and reach their full potential. The people who make this happen are not the trustees but a dedicated and committed team of people for whom the move to the new building is indeed a dream come true. The new building, an initiative from our local Community Voluntary Service is a triumph of partnership working with the Local Authority. It has enabled Nightsafe to move its Emergency Night Shelter from a small terraced house with shared bedrooms to state of the art facilities with single rooms, spacious lounge and kitchen facilities.
A young person spoke movingly last night about the difference Nightsafe had made in his life and how he valued the new accommodation and relocated Day Centre facilities. He also talked fondly of the old terraced house where it all began and how even in such a difficult environment there had been warmth and encouragement for the people who found themselves there.
This was the key for me, the Nightsafe staff who have built the service from a night shelter in a small terraced house to 3 successful projects, provide not just physical warmth and shelter to the young people but create and maintain an emotional shelter at times when it is most needed.
We all know our Maslow, and yes physical warmth and safety are key priorities and the charity more than delivers on that especially now we have this new facility. However, lets not forget that we can treat people with respect and dignity what ever the circumstances. The Nightsafe team have never forgotten this and are living proof that its not just about the building but what you do in it that provides shelter from the storm.