Just under a quarter of the 105,000+ young people experiencing homelessness in the UK identify as LGBTQ+. It is so upsetting that in 2022 young Queer and Trans people are still facing rejection, abuse and homelessness just for being brave enough to come out to their families. This is why we exist today – we are akt, the national charity providing pathways into safe and inclusion homes, alongside training, mentoring and support for lgbtq+ young people.
Jamila (not her real name) arrived at akt after fleeing violence and street homelessness in her home country after coming out to her family as Trans. Through our digital service, we often hear from young people from all over the world, who are fleeing violence and persecution after coming out. Jamila turned up at akt with a suitcase. She soon made it clear to us she had a passion for singing, actually it was impossible to stop her singing.
At first she was petrified and found it hard to trust, so we concentrated on the practicalities: getting her a home in our Purple Door House, providing her with a mentor to talk to – who was a musician, we also provided her with clean clothes and toiletries. She then worked with one of our caseworkers to find permanent accommodation and a job.
We love to work with creatives at akt, who deliver workshops and other opportunities for our young people; we find this helps young people heal, get back their self-esteem and build a future. One day the Elton John Aids Foundation offered us a visit from one of their Patrons, Lady Gaga. This had to be kept a surprise for our young people, just to avoid press and fans intrusion. We had no idea Jamila was an absolute Gaga fan, and when they met at akt Jamila cried and then sang for her. Lady Gaga stayed with our young people for 5 ½ hours – the young people, and especially Jamila, were overjoyed.
When Jamila left us with a part-time job and new home, she was given a Rainbow Starter pack, our fund which gives young people money for a deposit, first month’s rent, anything essential they need for their new home, and we also pay for them to move in. We really miss this sparkling young person, but know ‘she is happier now than she has ever been’ (her words).
The majority of the lgbtq+ young people we help identify as Black, Brown or People of Colour and / or are Trans. This means they face multiple discrimination. That why this summer our Pride campaign ‘Our House’ is all about celebrating intersectionality and inclusion.
As I write this, 24% of the young people we help have already experienced sleeping on the streets before they reach us. This is why we need the support of our allies and communities right now.
If you would like to support our work this Pride month, please make a donation to our summer appeal so we can provide safe homes and better futures for young people www.akt.org.uk/queertostay Please also follows us on our social channels and help us raise awareness and ensure more young people find their way to akt.
Happy Pride, and please Celebrate, Unify and Protest with the LGBTQ+ communities.
Tim Sigsworth MBE, CEO of akt, 17th June 2022