Winter can often be a time where families enjoy more time together than usual. The festive period - along with shorter, colder days - means that many of us will stay inside to keep warm and spend quality time with our nearest and dearest.

However, this isn’t the case for many LGBTQ+ young people in unsupportive homes, where this restriction can turn into an incredibly isolating experience. This can impact on their mental health and wellbeing, making it more likely they will risk everything by escaping, with nowhere else to stay isolating them further and putting them in greater danger. 

We know it’s about to get very cold – with temperatures across the country set to fall well below freezing - and we need to make sure we can help any LGBTQ+ young person who needs us and bring them in to a warm, secure environment. We are sure that you, like us, believe that no one should have to choose between a safe home and being who they are. 

Many young people who need our help get in touch through our enhanced live chat because it provides a very quick response time – just a few minutes – and also affords more privacy and flexibility than when speaking on the phone. By making it as easy as possible for those who need our support, we’ll be able to help even more young people, for many years to come. 

This kind of support is extremely vital this winter. 33% of all young people getting in touch through our live chat do so with an immediate need for accommodation, with many others also experiencing or fearing abuse, violence or hostility.

Earlier this year, we were contacted by a young woman whose brother – Billy – was experiencing domestic abuse in their family home. She mentioned that their parents were not allowing Billy to attend his university lectures, have his own money or even leave the house.

Our digital services caseworker asked Billy’s sister to send over some extra information and we were able to work with her to help Billy escape the house and get to a place of safety. We then referred him to a local LGBTQ+ domestic abuse service as well as his local authority for a homeless assessment. After just two days, he was provided with supported accommodation! 

Through akt’s Rainbow Starter Pack personal grant programme, Billy was finally able to buy essential items for his new flat. We also supported him to make a claim for benefits, get an official form of ID and sign up for employability services in his area.

Billy explained that communicating through WhatsApp messages and voice notes was the easiest and most accessible way for him to keep in touch.

He is now settled, safe and happy, and also started university in September!

Without the live chat function on our website, Billy’s sister might never have been able to get in touch with us. We must make sure that we are doing everything we can to make it easy for all young people who need our support to reach us. Please help us be there by supporting our appeal today and make sure that no one is left out in the cold this winter.

Thank you.

 

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