The pandemic has presented numerous challenges for the Services team at akt. 

In addition to having to become agile in our approach to casework and supporting young people, we’ve also been faced with a much higher number of referrals than for the same period in 2019, and this is a trend we’re continuing to see.

This started with young people, in particular those in our lower age range of 16-17, who struggled with increased tensions at home with parents and family during the first lockdown. Some of these came to us as their living situation had become unbearable and unsafe, others had been kicked out by their parents, in some instances because they had come out or been outed. Among these numbers were a high portion of rough sleepers – much more than we would normally see refer into our services.

Simultaneously, we watched as referrals came in thick and fast from parts of England outside the regions we have a base and operate in. However, one thing we learned during lockdown is that it’s possible to provide remote support to LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness effectively, which was a great learning experience.

In response to this huge spike in need, and what we learned working remotely, we were fortunate to be able to bring in some much-needed capacity into our already overworked and overstretched team. This includes a new role of a national caseworker who, working remotely and digitally, will support LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness in any part of the country.

The news in September of the ‘eviction ban’ being lifted has only increased the vulnerability and housing insecurity of LGBTQ+ young people who’ve been struggling to pay their rent during this period. From spring next year, when the first evictions are legally able to take place following the ban’s lifting, we expect to see even higher numbers of referrals from people who have nowhere to go.

It remains an extremely bleak reality for the LGBTQ+ young people that we support here at akt, many of whom were working in hospitality or on zero hours contracts. Additionally, the disconnect from their community spaces they’ve faced has only added to the huge strain their mental health has taken, in particular for those who are in precarious living situations or don’t have supportive parents and families.

Our Youth Engagement team has responded to this incredibly, setting up virtual ‘spaces’ for wellbeing, sharing, activities and community, which has been extremely well-received. We will continue to undertake this work as many of the young people we support continue to lack access to friends and spaces amidst the current lockdown guidance.

Without the ongoing support of our donors – it would not have been possible to increase capacity to our team earlier in the year – which would have had an extremely negative impact on LGBTQ+ young people who need us most. So on behalf of the team, I’d like to thank you for your ongoing support!

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