A NEW service to tackle youth homelessness has been launched in south Worcestershire.

Nightstop, which has been supporting young people in crisis in the north of the county for many years, has secured funding to extend their services to Worcester, Wychavon and Malvern Hills.

Dave James, 35, project manager for Nightstop, said: “I feel very passionately that more needs to be done to support young people at risk, while also helping those who, for whatever reason, end up homeless.

“I hope that by working with statutory agencies, other charities and the community we can make sure we reach vulnerable young people.”

The charity hopes to duplicate its success across the south of the county.

Last year, Wyre Forest Nightstop organised 127 emergency overnight stays for under 25s who found themselves without a bed for the night, through its host family network.

It also reached hundreds of teenagers through school education sessions, held 70 family mediation sessions to help children and parents resolve problems, and supported a total of 668 young people.

Mr James has more than ten years experience working with homeless people - most recently as a housing officer with Wychavon District Council.

He had previously worked at St Paul’s Hostel and provided outreach support to rough sleepers across the city.

Mr James was inspired to work with the homeless after meeting the father of a work colleague.

He said: “I would periodically bump into him and really enjoyed chatting to him.

"I also became aware of what life was like for him sleeping in doorways, being robbed, abused, and just having a horrible time.”

Judith Ford, chief executive of Wyre Forest and South Worcestershire Nightstop, said: “We are delighted to welcome Dave to the Nightstop team.

“Dave brings with him a wealth of experience from the homelessness sector as well as a great working knowledge of south Worcestershire.

“The team will be supporting Dave as he develops our service and strengthens partnerships across the county.

“This is a very timely addition to our services as we seek to expand the work we are doing on preventing youth homelessness and empowering young people to live constructive, independent lives in their community.”