During mental health awareness week I want to draw your attention to the significant impact the pandemic has had on the mental health and wellbeing of lgbtq+ young people.

Our frontline services team are providing vital support and advice online to help those facing serious threats to their mental health and the risk of domestic violence as they face the pressure of being forced to isolate within hostile or abusive families or in other hostile environments.

We are anticipating post lockdown, that many young people we support will also face joblessness from their unsecure employment, personal financial crisis and the threat of eviction from their rented accommodation or from their families homes. Throughout the pandemic It has been a constant challenge for our team to secure safe accommodation for young people, which we know will become even more difficult post lockdown, as some options we have relied upon previously will become unavailable or not practical. However our team have done an incredible job, with limited resources against a backdrop of a significant increase in referrals (100% in April in London); keeping young people safe and housed, as well as providing emotional, financial and practical support and guidance to young people.

It is clear that the pandemic has further highlighted the inequalities within society and our own community, with people of colour, trans people and those with very little income disproportionately being affected by COVID-19.

This is reflected in the people we are helping at akt with 63% of the young people who access akt nationally identifying as people of colour (rising to 77%+ within our London service). This issue will be a focal point of our lobbying and campaigning work over the coming months. 

Our national footprint has grown during the crisis as we switched to relying upon our digital based service options; and we are seeing a rise in young people presenting to us who are from Yorkshire, the midlands and wales, where we do not provide physical services, all requesting our support and advice. I want to reiterate again how incredibly proud I am of the team who are ensuring young people’s safety and welfare are at the heart of their work. They have adapted to an online advice and support model so adeptly, and going forward you will see us build upon our digital offer to young people – a priority over the coming year.

For the time being akt will continue to offer our support, advice and information to young people nationally online. However we are hoping to start a phased return to the workspace later in summer, but only following assurances through the public health advice and other trusted sources of information provide us with enough evidence to guarantee the safety of our staff and the young people we work with and of course following a health and safety review and adaption of our spaces to ensure we can operate and maintain a safe environment.

In the next edition of akt now, we will be sharing our impact report covering the last 12 months and our development plans for the future - because we know lgbtq+ young people need akt now more than ever. 

Once again thank you for your generosity and support. You are ensuring that akt is providing more young people with the support and safety they need and in doing so protecting the organisations ability to respond to the effects of the pandemic on so many young lgbtq+ people’s lives.  Oh and please join us for our #aktogether sessions this week offering you lots of laughter and a chance to support our work at the same time with a donation.

Tim Sigsworth FRSA MBE
Chief Executive