Formerly known as The Albert Kennedy Trust, akt is a voluntary organisation based in England that was founded in 1989 to serve LGBTQ+ young people who are homeless or living in a hostile environment. QX chatted with akt about the current homeless situation among young LGBTQ+ people, the work that they do and the help that we can give by donating.
What is the situation currently regarding homelessness among young LGBTQI+ people?
The National Scoping of LGBT Youth Homelessness report published by akt in 2015 showed that 24% of young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness are LGBTQ+. Many people experiencing homelessness who are heterosexual or cisgender are not explicitly made homeless because of their identity. For many LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness, it is because of their identity that they are in precarious housing situations.
78% of the young people akt work with cite familial rejection and abuse after coming out or being outed as the primary reason for their homelessness, but the abuse and discrimination that young people face often does not end when they leave home. Young people experiencing homelessness are also more susceptible to hate crimes and discrimination when out in public.
Winter is already the most dangerous time for anyone to become homeless, but for LGBTQ+ young people, winter can be an even more lonely time. Support networks can dissipate as people return to their own family homes. Support services may close or operate under reduced capacity. This can have a damaging knock-on effect on a young person’s mental health and ability to live authentically.
Discrimination can continue when accessing support services. Our research showed that over half of the LGBTQ+ young people we spoke to had faced some form of discrimination or harassment while accessing services. This could range from housing services misgendering or deadnaming them to being denied entrance to single-sex shelters or hostels. Transphobia or homophobia in the home is not high on the list of requirements to access council housing, so the severity of young peoples’ situations is often underestimated.
87% of the young people we worked with last year had experienced rough sleeping by the time they came to akt. Rough sleeping might include bedding down on the streets, sleeping on the bus, or in a car or shed.
How are you part of the solution?
akt was set up to give LGBTQ+ young people at risk of or experiencing homelessness or a hostile living environment the support they need to thrive. We do what we do because LGBTQ+ young people deserve safety and acceptance. For as long as LGBTQ+ young people are subject to hostility, exclusion and insecurity, our services will be vitally needed.
Akt offers financial support to young people in what is termed a ‘support pack’, and is categorised into three groupings:
- Emergency Packs meet the immediate needs of a young person and can include electric gas top-up, travel, food and somewhere to stay.
- Rainbow Starter Packs help someone secure housing or make their accommodation liveable. They can include help with a deposit, essential items (such as a bed or fridge) and moving costs.
- Independent Living helps someone with greater objectives in their life. It can include education, training or employment support, for example, purchasing equipment to attend college, travel for a new job, or formal ID.
Across the years 2021-2022, akt gave 6957 Housing support sessions. We also supported 110 LGBTQ+ young people in long-term secure housing. Our caseworkers connected 753 young LGBTQ+ people who came to us to training and education programmes, with a further 1589 individuals directed to mental health support services.
We also have a Youth Engagement Team that works nationwide to provide opportunities to young people who are currently or have recently accessed akt support services. We provide in-person and online spaces to meet other LGBTQ+ young people and be involved in youth groups, trips, events, and workshops.
How can we help?
To help LGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness, consider donating to akt. £10 could help us pay for a young person’s mobile data top-up and transport to emergency accommodation, £40 could support a young person to obtain a form of Photo ID (needed to open a bank account, claim benefits, etc), £100 could cover the cost of a 2-day stay at emergency accommodation.
The average cost of emergency accommodation rose by 111% between 2022 and 2023. Our support packs, which provide immediate practical assistance to young people, have more than tripled in cost over the last two years. We desperately need donations to keep our services running for young people, which is why we will be launching our Winter Appeal in partnership with The Big Give at the end of this month. You can keep up to date with all of akt’s work by visiting our website or by following us on social media.