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New initiative launched to tackle homelessness among LGBT youth

Ramsey DeHani July 23, 2009
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Four leading LGBT charities have announced the launch of a new initiative to reduce homelessness among young LGBT people.

The initiative, known as ‘Jigsaw’, brings together the legal advisers Stonewall Housing, youth homelessness and support charity the Albert Kennedy Trust, the mental health organisation PACE and Galop, which supports victims of homophobic crime.

A joint statement from the groups said: “Despite the greater legal recognition of LGBT people, social acceptance is far from universal.

“Even in London today, many young LGBT people face rejection from their own family, persecution from their own communities, and even physical attack.

“Furthermore, most offenders of homophobic hate crime are aged between 16 and 20”.

Michael Nastari, the co-ordinator of Jigsaw, and a director of LGBT Youth Homelessness Prevention Network, commented: “The effects of homophobia and transphobia on young people’s lives can be devastating. As a result, they can fail to succeed in education, miss out on employment and training, and suffer a range of mental health issues.

“Jigsaw is the first initiative of its kind to put the pieces together,” he continued. “Young people who use Jigsaw gain access to a complete range of services, specially tailored to their individual needs.”

The programme will offer a range of services, including counselling on emotional well-being and education, employment and training opportunities.

The group also hopes to offer help in building up social networks by offering access to youth groups

The Jigsaw project is supported by a number of celebrities and politicians, including deputy mayor for London Richard Barnes, actor John Partridge and American-British TV personality Amy Lamé.

Lamé said: “It is shocking that so many LGBT young people are forced out of homes onto the streets by their own families, simply for being who they are. In many cases unconditional love doesn’t seem to apply. I am proud to be involved in Jigsaw and it’s great to hear how it is helping LGBT young people put their lives back together.”

Deputy Mayor Barnes said: “During these times of economic uncertainty it is inspiring to see voluntary sector organisations join forces to help meet the needs of LGBT young people.”

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