A woman who lets homeless youths stay in her family home has said that “nobody chooses to be homeless”.

Katy and Will Moyle, both aged in their early 30s, live in Cricklewood with their young son and have offered their spare room up to those seeking shelter for the past two years.

The Nightstop initiative is run by youth homelessness charity Depaul and offers emergency accommodation to young people at risk through its network of volunteers.

Katy told this paper that every young person she has met through the scheme has “had a really difficult time for one reason or another”.

It comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed that rough sleeping is sometimes a “lifestyle choice” and called for an end to “pitching tents in public spaces".

Katy said: “I couldn’t believe it when she said that. We all live in a much more precarious society than we want to believe.

“Being homeless is incredibly dangerous, so the idea that someone would choose it intentionally just shows a complete lack of understanding of how people end up in that situation and the reality of people in that situation.”

When Katy moved back to the UK from New York in 2019, she said she was struck by the numbers of people sleeping rough on the streets.

According to Combined Homelessness and Information Network (Chain) figures, 4,068 rough sleepers were recorded in London between July and September this year.

This is an increase of 12% on the numbers recorded in the same period last year.

Katy said: “The sad thing is that welfare has been stripped back and there is now this huge gap which people can fall through and find themselves without somewhere to live. And that is a terrifying place to be.

“[The people we host] are just normal kids who have had one or two things go wrong and that’s all it takes for them to end up without shelter.”

Katy added that acting as hosts for Nightstop has been a “very positive experience” for her family, and that guests are always charmed by her toddler Zac.

The service operates through a rota, with volunteers allowed to sign up for as many nights a month as they would like.

Katy said: “It’s always lovely to hear when [guests] move onto permanent accommodation, and when we have longer-term guests, we have really nice chats and a really fun time.

“They’re from all different backgrounds – most of them are born in the UK but some of them aren’t, so it’s interesting.”

To find out more about Depaul and its urgent winter appeal visit https://www.depaul.org.uk/help-a-young-person-reach-a-safe-place/