We're in an incredibly strange and uncertain time at the moment, which is difficult for all of us, but for queer young people facing homelessness or living in a hostile or abusive environment it can be extremely damaging.

Since lockdown, the Services team at akt has had to make a quick shift to ensure we are able to provide support to vulnerable young people who need us, even if we’re unable to provide face to face casework. This includes virtual consultations, our live chat function on the akt website and lots of advocacy on the behalf of young people, at local authorities, to ensure they are provided with suitable and safe accommodation.

For people who’ve been homeless, whether that’s sofa surfing or sleeping on the streets, they are now even more at-risk than before. For those staying at friends, there’s the risk of being asked to move on due to isolation needs, and people sleeping rough are less likely to find support as services and general footfall reduce.

There’s also those young people who are living at home, but in a hostile or abusive environment. Not only does lockdown mean their chances of finding somewhere else to live (whether permanent or temporary) more difficult, but being stuck indoors all-day with people who don’t accept you for who can create an incredibly dangerous environment. It can be a huge strain on the young person’s mental health, or even increase the likelihood of abuse within the home. For those who aren’t able to be themselves at home, not being able to escape to see friends, take part in community activities or even visit queer spaces can further increase isolation.

It’s for these reasons that, sadly, we’re not surprised that the volume of referrals we’ve had as of late as continued to be incredibly high. However, I’m so proud that our team has worked tirelessly to protect and support young people with housing and ensure their wellbeing. Online, we have also worked with our Youth Engagement Coordinator and Digital Officer to produce a range of content to help make young people feel less isolated, including a range of collaborative events and content with queer creators and activists. We have also worked to ensure young people can get all the information they need on COVID-19 from our website, in bitesize and digestible language, with queer and inclusive graphics and explainers to boot.

Now more than ever it’s vital that we come together as a community and support one another. Crises like these really highlight the inequalities within communities, but also offer a chance for those of us who have privilege to use it to help others where we can. That’s why we do what we do at akt, and we why continue to be so proud of the young people we support, their resilience and positivity.

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