As we enter the final weeks of 2019, I look back on the last twelve months at akt feeling so inspired by our incredible young people, supporters and staff, who have helped make this one of our most impactful years yet.

This year we have widened and strengthened our offer to young people, including our digital offering, which has supported over 2,000 young people via our live chat and digital mentoring service. This is in addition to the 6,000 bed nights we provided as part of our in-person offer, whether in our Purple Door safe house, host programme or emergency accommodation.

We also began undertaking scoping work in Bristol and are delighted to be working with local group Off The Record to provide support to LGBTQ+ young people in the south west who need our support.

Restructuring our youth engagement programme has meant this can cross through all areas of our work, including strategic development, co-creation workshops, web content production and high-profile visits. This year, our Youth Conference also welcomed double the number of attendees to its previous years.  For the first time we appointed a former service user, Faz, as akt’s President. Faz will be representing akt both externally as well as amplifying the voice of young people within akt. He is also undertaking training in trusteeship with the support of two of akt’s Trustees.

Since rebranding earlier in the year, our new look and logo has gone down a storm, emblazoned across a new set of inclusive badges and stickers, Pride flags and our very first akt online store, which we launched as part of our Room For Love campaign this summer. Brand-wise, we’ve also had an extremely busy year for partnerships, being supported by the likes of Dr Martins, Marks & Spencer, Victoria Beckham and JW Anderson. We couldn’t do the work we do without the corporate support we receive – and so we’re so grateful for the busy summer we’ve had with them.

Finally, it’s been an exciting year for the development of our public affairs programme, which has included a Speaker’s House event, civic reception with the Lord Mayor of Manchester and a series of high-profile visits with parliamentarians, MPs and of course, the Duke of Cambridge himself. These opportunities have been fantastic, as they’ve given young people we’ve supported the opportunity to talk to influential figures about their experiences, and what can be done to ensure no young person has to choose between a safe home and being who they are.  

I am extremely proud to welcome to akt some incredibly talented people who have joined our staff and Trustee Board to further our frontline work, strategy and governance:

  • Alyssa and Ellen have  joined us as Caseworkers in Bristol and London respectively to provide extra support to the rising number of young people requesting our support. Freya has joined our fundraising team in London to ensure our growing supporter are well looked after, and Samirha has joined us in Newcastle as Finance Officer to provide much needed extra help to our finance and fundraising teams.
  • Matt Haworth, Asad Dhunna, Martin Collett, Matt Campion and Rob Malcolmson will attend their first meeting in January and will support the development of our national expansion programme, our digital offer to young people and the growth of our Purple Door programme.

The success we’ve had as a charity this year means one thing: we are able to support more LGBTQ+ young people facing or experiencing homelessness. That is what we’re here to do and, unfortunately, there is still a real need for us in the UK.

We couldn’t do any of this work without your support, whether you’re a donor, a volunteer, a committee member, part of a network group or corporate who support us, a housing partner, journalist or an akt young ambassador.

After reaching our 30th anniversary, next year we will be completing our scoping of need in Bristol and the south west and undertaking a small scale scoping in Brighton. We'll be working towards opening more Purple Door houses in England, and launching some very exciting digital projects to better support young people wherever they are whenever they need us. Please watch out for further updates throughout 2020.

I’d like to wish each and every one of you a fantastic start to the New Year, where we will continue to do what we do, and I hope will continue to have your support every step of the way.