Last winter was the first time I’d ever slept outside. It was a park in London and I’d never felt so lonely – it didn’t feel like it was my life anymore, like it was happening to someone else. In the morning two men approached me and offered me drugs and a place to stay if I agreed to have sex with them. I said no, and knew I had to find somewhere safer to sleep. I was worried they’d come back. They made me feel sick.

My parents had found out I was bisexual and told me I wasn’t allowed in their house anymore. They didn’t want me around my brother and sisters. That’s why I had to leave, and why I ended up in that park.

I charged my phone in a coffee shop and looked online for help. That’s when I found AKT’s website, who helped me access a winter shelter.

I could tell AKT things I’d never told anyone before. Nothing shocked them, and they knew how to help. Straight away I didn’t feel so alone anymore.

They gave me the confidence to return to college, and helped me move into a rented flat just outside of London. Every step gets me closer to where I want to be.

I look back at last winter and it feels like a lifetime ago.

AKT’s Out of the Cold campaign will mean more LGBTQ+ young people never have to make the choice between a safe home and being who they are.

Your support means everything to a young person who’s found themselves with nowhere to go. Thank you.