Greater Manchester Mayor Charity's A Home For All Campaign is raising awareness into hidden homelessness - something that really impacts the lives of LGBTQ+ young people throughout Manchester

The Riverside Housing Project  was launched earlier this year in Manchester’s city centre. The supported accommodation is a response to the rising levels of LGBTQ+ youth homelessness across the northwest of England to provide short-term housing for homeless LGBTQ+ people aged 18+, with an emphasis on creating a safe space for the community which is ‘free from discrimination’. akt is a proud partner to Riverside Housing Project which is providing supported accommodation to LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness across the North West of England.

A Bed Every Night is a great entry-level point for addressing homelessness and in that LGBTQ+ youth homelessness. However, more sustainable, and affordable housing needs to be put in place to account for the increasing population of LGBTQ+ young people who need it. It’s the prejudices and discrimination they face, which makes it difficult for a young person to move on from a hostile or inappropriate living situation. Therefore, it’s essential housing providers team up with specialist organisations - like akt - who have the expertise to support vulnerable groups. 

akt supports and campaigns for the rights of LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness, abuse or living in a hostile environment. The charity was borne out of the activism of its founder Cathy Hall in Manchester in 1989, and has since grown to establish service centres and youth spaces in London, Bristol and Newcastle. 

In order to meet this huge rise in demand and expand on the charity’s offer to LGBTQ+ young people in the North West, akt opened its doors to a new services centre and youth space on 25th August 2021. The new centre and youth space will provide specialist housing support; emergency accommodation; education and employment training; host and mentor programmes; and peer-to-peer support. And, like The Riverside Housing Project, provide a communal safe space for LGBTQ+ young people. 

24 percent of the youth homelessness population across the U.K identify as LGBTQ+. This means they are overrepresented within this demographic - the same is true in Greater Manchester. 

The lack of infrastructure and support in place for LGBTQ+ young people cause many to sleep rough. However, the increased vulnerability and exposure to violence and exploitation that can come with sleeping rough, drives many LGBTQ+ young people to seek safety in being invisible in their homelessness, or as it’s more widely known ‘hidden homeless’. Thus, resorting to sofa surfing; sleeping in bus shelters; using gay saunas and hook-up apps.  

Hidden homelessness often stems from a deep-rooted mistrust of authoritative figures amongst LGBTQ+ young people because of rejection and abuse experienced at home from parents, uncles, aunties, or older siblings. This is highlighted in the fact that 77 percent of the LGBTQ+ young people we support cite familial rejection as the driving force behind their homelessness. 

Many LGBTQ+ young people have had negative experiences of housing, financial and mental health services. This is due to the fact that caseworkers and counsellors struggle to fully understand the intersectional barriers LGBTQ+ young people face when trying to stay safe. This is particularly true for people who are of colour, trans or disabled young people. Many service providers lack the necessary training and insight to properly support the needs of this demographic. 

According to our recent report, just one third (35 per cent) of LGBTQ+ young people sought support from their local authority whilst homeless. And 59% of LGBTQ+ young people experienced discrimination or harassment when accessing a support service; 40 per cent of trans young people experienced misgendering or deadnaming from services and 43 per cent of LGBTQ+ young people of colour felt services did not understand what support to provide because they were LGBTQ+. 

When young people become hidden homeless, they fall under the radar of local authorities, they’re left out of official statistics and are excluded from mainstream conversations around homelessness. This lack of visibility results in a lack of awareness into the scope of the issue of LGBTQ+ youth homelessness.  

Authorities will only focus their resources, funding and commissioning into projects supporting the homelessness they can see. This means sustainable interventions aren’t put in place to support marginalised groups and their specific needs. Subsequently, services are ill-equipped to deal with the needs of LGBTQ+ young people and in turn, the latter do not feel services will provide a safe welcoming supportive space for them, and so they remain hidden. 

It is only through the joined-up efforts of specialist organisations like akt, with government and led by those with lived experience, that we can hope to drastically improve the life outcomes of LGBTQ+ young people facing homelessness across Greater Manchester. 

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