YES Below Zero

Thank you for showing an interest in volunteering or at least getting to know a bit more about the YES Below Zero scheme. Nationally there is a commitment to ensure that no-one has to stay out on a night where the temperature drops below zero. In York this commitment covers every night from 1st November to 28th February (plus a few extra days into March, if needed).

YES Below Zero is a group of volunteers who work in partnership with the City of York Council (who supply a flat) and the Salvation Army (who make the referrals). The YES Below Zero Flat is able to offer, for up to 5 guests, a bed for the night. This offer includes a hot meal, hot drinks or juice, some home comforts, a bath/shower, access to a washing machine, breakfast, and a pack up if desired.

The flat opens at 6pm and our guests can arrive from this time and will depart the next day at 9 am (10am at weekends)

The volunteers, who work in pairs (for safety and support), are asked to carry out a few tasks; From 5.45pm to 11pm –open up the flat, settle in new guests, provide an evening meal from fresh or from the freezer, keep the kitchen and living areas clean, make tea and coffee and most importantly just be themselves in conversation, helpfulness and kindness. In the morning 7am to 9am (8am-10am weekends) ensure the guests are up and have the opportunity for breakfast before all leaving and locking up. Some extra duties may include launder and making up of beds. People choose their own shifts and how often they would like to do a shift

We use the term of “guest” because when life is not great it is nice to have one place where you get treated well. Guests don’t have to do anything in the flat but most will help to keep the place clean, wash up and generally help out but there is no expectation.

Volunteering is very straightforward. If you would like to get involved, email Barney at


Dave’s Story

Dave*, an 18 year old lad, had been living with his mother and her boyfriend in a two bedroom flat. His mother’s boyfriend had moved in when he was 16 and he and Dave got on quite well. His mother had become pregnant around that time and for a while things were okay. Dave’s mother and boyfriend asked Dave as he was now 18 if he would move out; the baby was nearly two and they felt that they wanted the baby to have his own room. Dave understood this and had a friend who was willing to look at sharing a small flat together. They were both at work and the families helped with bonds and some items to get them started. For a few months things were good but Dave’s friend lost his job and they could not afford the flat. Dave’s friend moved out. Dave couldn’t stay but couldn’t go back to his mother’s flat. Dave had other friends and family and started to stay with these people for a few nights here and there. Dave’s life became quite unsettled; he was not sleeping or eating very well, personal hygiene and laundry was becoming an issue, plus Dave was finding it hard to keep track of his possessions. This in turn was affecting his abilities at work and he was suspended from his job. Dave was told that he might get help from the Salvation Army Homelessness service. Dave got in contact and was referred to the Below Zero flat.
At the flat, that evening, Dave was warmly greeted, shown where his bed would be, given a meal and told about other facilities; the bathroom and how to access a washing machine. In the morning there was breakfast and Dave could take some food for his lunch. Dave continued to work with the Salvation Army and the local housing officer and within a short period of time was able to get an affordable place to live. Dave’s appearance improved, he was able to sleep and his mental health was much better. This short period of stability allowed Dave to go back to work and re-organise his life. Homelessness is not necessarily living on the streets and being marginalised by society yet without schemes like YES Below Zero it could very easily become such.

*name changed for anonymity