Anne-Marie is the Services Manager in our Bristol office. We spoke to her recently about how akt supports young trans people in general, and the work akt is doing specifically in Bristol.

How do we support trans young people?

We support young trans people by being supportive and welcoming of them as individuals and respecting that there is no one way to be trans and that each young person is an individual with unique experiences. We support and encourage them to be themselves, whatever that means to them and advocate for them if they are homeless or in a hostile environment. We respect their pronouns and their confidentiality and challenge transphobia where we come across it. For example, some local authorities will encourage a young person to stay in the family home and not express their identity in order to be accepted by their family, which akt finds unacceptable so we challenge this. We also challenge local authorities who insist on contacting a transphobic family as part of their homelessness inquiries as again, the homelessness code of guidance clearly states that this should not happen in situations where there is domestic abuse.  

Are there any trends your seeing in Bristol around supporting trans or LGBTQ+ young people generally?

The young people coming through to us are not based in Bristol necessarily, they’re dispersed around the South West. We’ve had referrals from Cornwall, Wales and Plymouth and lots of areas in between. We do seem to have more trans young people contacting us in the South West and this was highlighted in the pilot and is continuing to be the case. 

How do we sign post trans young people and in what instances would we need to?

We would signpost young people in some cases when they have complex needs and need a specialist service that akt isn’t able to provide as fully. For example, a mental health support service or for debt advice or if they need a housing solicitor to challenge a negative decision from the local authority. Rather than just signpost, we ensure we have links with local agencies so that we can ensure the young person feels comfortable accessing a different service and try and arrange an appointment for a young person and provide some advocacy for them as sometimes, they can lack the confidence to approach mainstream services as they may have had a poor experience in the past around misgendering or from workers who lack a basic understanding of their needs.

And finally, do you have any standout stories from trans young people you've supported that we could highlight?

Elyssa (Caseworker based in the akt Bristol office) is doing ongoing work with a young person who was evicted from 3 different service providers and she has done some brilliant partnership working across community mental health team and social services as well as liaising with a housing solicitor and providing a supporting statement to support a review of an intentional homelessness decision. With Elyssa’s background knowledge of the young person’s support needs, mental health, alcohol dependency and ADHD diagnosis, she was able to gather evidence to support the review and submit this to the solicitor. With this information, we were able to secure a successful outcome for the young person with the decision overturned. The local council has now accepted a full duty to house her and she is in self-contained temporary accommodation. Elyssa continues to work with her and has a multi-agency meeting to attend shortly to ensure an assessment is carried out under the Care Act 2014 to get the young person the support she needs.