Actor and gay rights advocate Sir Ian McKellen was the guest of honour at a special charity event hosted by Village Drinks last night.

More than 200 people turned out to show their support for the Albert Kennedy Trust.

Tickets for the event and a silent auction raised more than £4,000 for the trust.

AKT was established in Manchester in 1989. It works with young lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people whose families have rejected them or are unable to care for them.

The charity helped more than 1,400 young people in 2007.

Sir Ian, parton of AKT and a longtime supporter of their work, spent the evening chatting to guests, who were treated to homemade mince pies and mulled wine.

“They are right where it is happening,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.

“It is depressing that there is still some need for AKT. The fact they have good relationships with local authorities and social services is a huge improvement. There has been a big change in official attitudes.”

16-year-old Fran spoke movingly about her problems at home after she came out and how AKT had advised her, intervened on her behalf and helped her find accommodation.

Village Drinks founder Neil Spring told PinkNews.co.uk:

“We want to thank our members for raising this money.

“Gay professionals across London have made a positive contribution to the lives of young people who need support and advice, especially at this time of year.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who came.”

In 2009 the group will launch its own gay dining club. Click here for more information.

AKT chief executive Tim Sigsworth publicised the charity’s Christmas appeal at last night’s event.

“If just 365 people donate £18 each to the appeal they will have raised the money needed to keep one young person off the streets and safe in a Carer household for one year,” he said.

To donate visit the AKT website: www.akt.org.uk.

AKT’s mission is to ensure that all lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans young people are able to live in accepting, supportive and caring homes, by providing a range of services to meet the individual needs of those who would otherwise be homeless or living in a hostile environment.

The Trust provides appropriate homes through supported lodgings, fostering and other specialist housing schemes and enables young people to manage independent living successfully.

AKT also offers support and information for young people and plans for 2009 include the creation of a quality mark scheme for mainstream housing providers.

The Albert Kennedy Trust was set up in 1989, after 16 year old Albert Kennedy fell to his death from the top of a car park in Manchester while trying to escape a car load of queerbashers.

Albert was a runaway from a children’s home in Salford and was depressed. His short tragic life had been filled with rejection and abuse from society.

Manchester’s gay community was moved into action by the Trust’s founder patron Cath Hall, a heterosexual foster carer who admitted she could not meet the full range of needs of gay & lesbian kids coming through her care.

As a result AKT was formed, and in 1990 became a Trust.