Akt in the South West is supporting LGBTQ+ young people out of homelessness

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Bex Shorunke Senior Media Officer at akt lets us know about the vital support services they are offering to LGBTQ+ young people.

In Bristol and the surrounding South West, hundreds of LGBTQ+ young people are at risk of homelessness each year.

LGBTQ+ young people account for 24 per cent of the youth homelessness population across the UK, meaning they are overrepresented within this demographic.

Across the South West trans young people in particular are finding themselves vulnerable to different forms of homelessness including rough sleeping and hidden homelessness.

COVID-19 exacerbated many of the driving factors contributing to LGBTQ+ youth homelessness; rejection from parents (77% of the young people akt supports cite familial rejection as the reason behind their homelessness); unemployment and economic instability and poor mental health. 

This, coupled with a lack of understanding around the issues of transphobia among local authorities and single-sex hostels denying trans people accommodation, has led to a recent spike in trans young people needing support out of homelessness. 

Akt bridges the gap between LGBTQ+ young people aged 16 – 25 who are facing homelessness, and the local authorities and housing providers who may not prioritise re-housing them. Akt is a national charity which was formed in 1989 in Manchester and has since expanded to setup service centres and youth spaces in Bristol, London, and Newcastle.  

Following a pilot scheme in October 2020 which confirmed akt’s services were required in Bristol and the South West, akt now has an established base near the city centre. The team provides specialist housing support; emergency accommodation; education and employment training; host and mentor programmes and peer-to-peer support.

 “We need akt in Bristol and the South West so that no young person has to navigate bureaucratic systems on their own when they’re at their most vulnerable,” explains Bristol Services Manager Anne-Marie. “At a time when they’re homeless and may have been rejected or abused and are feeling isolated and alone, akt is here for them.”

 Majority of the LGBTQ+ young people seeking support in Bristol have complex needs. These include a combination of poor mental health, PTSD on account of experiencing severe domestic or partner abuse and discrimination and learning difficulties.

 According to akt’s LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness Report one in six (16 per cent) LGBTQ+ young people have experienced sexual abuse by a family member or partner, 61 per cent have felt frightened or threatened by a family member prior to becoming homeless and 43 per cent of trans young people had experienced discrimination or harassment based on their trans identity. 

Akt is pushing for changes in policy that will see LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness better supported and protected. In the meantime, Bristol akt is forging stronger relationships with grassroots queer, homeless and community organisations spanning the South West of England to ensure those young people in Plymouth, Cornwall, Devon and Wales are able to get the help they need. 

It is only through the joined-up efforts of specialist organisations like akt with services and policy makers, led by those with lived experiences, that we can hope to drastically improve the life outcomes of LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness.

For more info and contact details please visit: https://www.akt.org.uk/news/akt-in-bristol

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