A VITAL lifeline for young homeless people in the New Forest has won £2,000 at the National Lottery Awards.

New Forest Nightstop beat hundreds of charities and organisations to be voted Best Voluntary/ Charity Project by members of the public.

The charity provides the only free short-term emergency accommodation for homeless young people aged 16 to 24 in the homes of trained and approved volunteers around the New Forest.

It has already won £235,000 of funding from the Lottery, enabling it to enter the annual awards.

Television presenter Jenni Falconer surprised workers and volunteers by presenting them with the award.

Representatives from the charity were then invited to the National Lottery Awards 2012 ceremony in London on Saturday, which was broadcast in a special BBC One programme hosted by John Barrowman.

Honour Nightstop coordinator Jude Todd said: “It is an absolute honour to win this award and a real boost for everyone involved to receive national recognition for their hard work and dedication.

“Lottery funding has been absolutely crucial to this project and the awards have given us a great opportunity to highlight our project.

“We have received fantastic support throughout all stages of the competition and I would especially like to thank everyone who voted for us.”

Presenting New Forest Nightstop with their trophy, former Spice Girls singer Melanie C said: “I’m honoured to present the Best Voluntary/Charity Project award to New Forest Nightstop.

“This small charity is saving the lives of vulnerable young people, and they thoroughly deserve this accolade.

“It’s been a real pleasure to attend The National Lottery Awards and meet people who are working hard to make a positive difference to their communities with National Lottery funding.

“It’s truly inspiring and it’s great that we can celebrate these amazing people and projects with this lovely event.”