This Christmas, the people of Sheffield have risen admirably to the Advent Box Challenge set by Depaul UK and its Nightstop South Yorkshire project. Kindly supporters have donated hundreds of essential items to help young people experiencing homelessness.
Supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery, emergency accommodation service Nightstop South Yorkshire puts up vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness in the spare bedrooms of trained and vetted volunteer hosts.
Since the beginning of December, the charity has been asking people to take part in the Advent Box Challenge, collecting 24 essential items to make life easier for a young person facing homelessness.
The call has received a fantastic response, with donations arriving in the charity's Nightstop South Yorkshire base in Sheffield city centre on a daily basis.
Nightstop South Yorkshire Manager Amy Smith said, "Some of the young people who use Nightstop arrive with us with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
"We're asking people for items like pyjamas, toiletries, and sanitary products, which so many of us take for granted. Our service relies on the kindness of volunteer hosts, but turning up on a stranger's doorstep can be intimidating for a young person.
"By offering them a few home comforts like some pyjamas to wear while their clothes are in the wash, and some toiletries to get clean, we can help make a stressful time a little bit easier for young people with nowhere to sleep this winter."
Nightstop South Yorkshire is a new service set up with £200,000 of funding from players of People's Postcode Lottery.
The charity has been hosting young people since the beginning of November and now has 12 households signed up to host, keeping desperate young people out of danger and off the streets.
Hosts offer accommodation on a night-by-night basis in their spare bedrooms, while the team at Nightstop South Yorkshire works with other agencies to help guests find somewhere more permanent to live.
With a 33-strong network of Nightstop services established around the UK, it is a tried-and-tested way to tackle youth homelessness, and provided around 13,500 bed-nights last year.
Amy hopes that the South Yorkshire service will see a similar level of success. She said, "The generosity of people who have donated to the Advent Box Challenge is just the tip of the iceberg.
"We're hoping that even more people will open up their homes over the next year and help us to keep vulnerable young people off the streets."