The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) has launched a new quality mark for housing providers to show they can meet the needs of LGBT people.
It was launched at a House of Commons reception earlier this week and has been sponsored by MP David Borrow.
The quality mark is designed to ensure that LGBT people who find themselves in housing difficulties can access mainstream services that are free from homophobia or transphobia.
It will be accompanied by a scheme called Making a Difference which will include one-day workshops for all staff, and will feature policies and procedures for greeting a young LGBT person in a way that “makes them feel accepted”.
Research has suggested that almost a quarter of homeless young people identify as LGBT. Young gay and bisexual men are more likely to suffer sexual exploitation, while there are also issues around coming out and homophobic abuse.
AKT chief executive Tim Sigsworth said: “We want to avoid having pockets of good service, around the country. My vision is to have at least one accredited service in every borough across the country, which will guarantee young people services without prejudice or judgement.”
“Research shows many organisations do not know how to create the welcoming, supportive environment that LGBT people desperately need. They often wrongly assume a blanket approach to youth homelessness works, but this leaves underlying issues unsolved.
“Remember that many LGBT people seeking help are most likely to assume homophobic attitudes are the norm because that’s all they have experienced from their family. The service providers have to take the initiative in breaking down barriers and making their support clear. The quality mark gives service providers the necessary direction to make that happen.”
The launch was also attended by actor Sir Ian McKellen, a patron of the trust.
He said: “I am delighted this is happening. The influence of the Trust will be felt way beyond the metropolitan centres in which it operates. Local authorities all across the UK will have a framework that ensures young LGBT people in difficulties get the best level of help.
“It makes the nation aware that a trust with unique expertise exists and is well placed to offer professional advice on dealing with LGBT youth issues. And of course, it provides a means of generating a little extra income, which helps it as a viable concern.”
So far, six housing associations have signed up to the scheme.