MORE than 120 homeless teenagers have been saved from a life on the streets thanks to a Bolton charity.
The town centre facility, which accommodates up to eight people mainly aged 16 or 17, was opened in 2009.
The majority of people are referred by Bolton Children’s Services and stay for several nights.
But others have stayed for more than six months at Nightstay, which is run by Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme, Irwell Valley, Bolton Children’s Services and Community Housing Services.
Young people attend from 6pm and leave at 9am the following morning.
They are provided with meals, a bed and are encouraged to work towards qualifications in baking, sexual health and health and safety in the home.
The front door is locked at 10.30pm and everyone has to be in their bedrooms by 11.30pm.
Project manager Lynne Sprigings said: “It has been successful.
“It helps to stabilise people.
People can change.”
Bolton Council fund the service and people staying give £5 each week towards food costs.
Figures show 80 per cent of the people who have stayed have since secured housing, or moved in with friends or family.
And 44 per cent of young people have left and gone into education or training.
Just two people have been jailed.
An 18-year-old woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said the help she received made her realise she wanted to work with young people with difficulties.
She has since enrolled on a counselling course and foundation degree in youth and the community.
The teenager said: “Nightstay puts you on the right track and gives you skills you need later in life.
“I first went there in 2009 when I was 16 but I was a bit ‘all over the place’ and I didn’t want to follow the rules.
“I went back at the end of 2010, followed the rules and got into college, got a job and started going to university.”
A 17-year-old girl stayed at Nightstay for four months earlier this year after leaving her family.
She said: “I arranged to go to Nightstay two weeks before I left. It was horrible having to wait but I am happy now. I got on so well with the staff. They taught me basic cookery skills, budgeting skills and told me about Connexions.”
Staff helped her to get a place on a football coaching apprenticeship and she is now looking forward to starting a college course in health and social care.
She is now living with a family in Bolton to obtain more skills before living independently.