Albert Kennedy Trust: Around a quarter of homeless young people are LGBT
There has been “no improvement” in reducing the levels of homelessness among young LGBT people in Britain, the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) has warned in a new report.
AKT – a charity set up to support young LGBT people at risk of becoming homeless – reveals in its ‘LGBT Youth Homelessness – National Scoping Review’ that there are too few targeted resources for people within the LGBT community.
LGBT young people are more likely to find themselves homeless than their non-LGBT peers, comprising between 19 – 26% of the youth homeless population.
In addition, there are emerging issues around forced marriages in certain faith communities that are causing young people to leave the family home.
AKT is calling for the government to make it a statutory requirement for social housing providers to ask service users to confirm their sexual orientation, and target services accordingly.
It wants local authorities to conduct a thorough review of their housing options, policies and procedures to ensure services are appropriate for, and inclusive of, homeless LGBT young people.
The trust also wants all housing providers to give training to staff to understand the unique needs of homeless LGBT youth.
Tim Sigsworth, CEO of the Albert Kennedy Trust said: “After 25 years witnessing the rejection and abuse of LGBT youth just for being brave enough to come out to their peers and family, this report is a much-needed call to action for government, housing providers, and everyone concerned with young peoples’ wellbeing.
“Making a number of specific, achievable and cost-effective recommendations we hope to help others prevent lifetimes of youth homelessness and its enduring impact on mental, physical and emotional health.”
Mr Sigsworth warned that cuts to housing services have made things worse for LGBT homeless people in recent years.
“The proportion of mainstream housing providers targeting services at LGBT homeless people has dropped from 11% to 1% between 2011 and 2013,” Mr Sigsworth said.
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“Homeless people, in particular those who identify as LGBT, have multiple and complex needs, and agencies within the UK are offering increasingly generic support due, in part, to a reduction in funds.”
Mr Sigsworth continued: “Annual reports suggest that there is a year-on-year increase in the need for services within the homelessness sector, yet austerity measures have increased vulnerability to funds being cut.
“A recent review of homelessness provision within the UK found that the capacity of the homelessness sector has continued to decline, with the number of accommodation at its lowest since 2009.
“If a proportion of local authority’s funds for housing could be ring-fenced specifically for LGBT services, this would go some way towards addressing the almost complete lack of services within current provision.”
In response, Stephen Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Bristol West and Minister for Communities said: “The government is working hard to create a fairer society and prevent young people from becoming homeless. We’re taking decisive action to ensure that all homeless people have access to the help they need to get back on their feet.
“We’ve invested £500 million in homelessness services and maintained one of the strongest safety nets in the world. This includes the £15 million Fair Chance Fund scheme which will turn around the lives of 1600 vulnerable homeless 18- 25 year olds.”