CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Young, LGBT+ and homeless

Youth Centre warns teenagers are meeting people online as the break isolation

21 July, 2019 — By Richard Osley

Lucy Bowyer from the Albert Kennedy Trust addresses councillors

A CHARITY has warned help and support is needed for young LGBT+ people who are falling into homelessness after being rejected by their families.

Lucy Bowyer, from the Albert Kennedy Trust, told a full council meeting that more than three quarters of the people they were trying to help had been cut out by relatives after coming out as gay.

“150,000 quarter of homeless will identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum,” she said, referring to national figures. “Of the young people we see 77 percent of those young people state that familial rejection was the primary reason for their homelessness or for contacting us, which I think is quite a shocking figure.”

She added: “In London particularly, we see up to 70 percent of our young people come from BAME backgrounds and up to 50 percent also come from faith backgrounds. So there is quite a lot of intersectional identities that are experiencing youth homelessness in London.”

The Trust – also known simply as AKT – tries to provide guidance and, in some cases, housing or placements with hosts to help young LGBT+ with nowhere to live.

Ms Bowyer was one of a series of speakers called in to take part in an all-member debate on LGBT+ rights earlier this month.

She said: “The discrimination that young people face within housing, particularly in the private rented sector, is increased for LGBTQ people. It’s quite often unsafe, and unaffordable to young people who may be on a limited income. And within that, specifically for trans people, the safety element is amplified.”

She added: “One thing that I would ask and recognise is that the funding of bed spaces and shelters last year specifically for LGBTQ people is a start to recognising our specific issues within that community and our specific vulnerabilities and safety issues – and the council should be applauded for that. Quite often there are no prevention services, and a lot of young people think that if there was an earlier intervention, they would have been able to prevent their homelessness.”


Lukasz Konieczka from Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre

Meanwhile, Lukasz Konieczka from the Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre, warned that young LGBT+ people in Camden are “still experiencing bullying, still experience hate crime, to a such high extent that they very often struggle to identify when it happens.”

He warned that some teenagers’ first exploration in trying to find other LGBT+ people would be contacting them online and this could be dangerous.

“Most astonishing recently, is that we have more and more referrals of young people from social services because of child sexual exploitation concerns,” he said.

“It’s not really surprising, because if you look at that, we have to look at the young person and need to connect them with people like them. This has very often easily beenmet by an app you can download on your phone and pretend you are older than you are, and that at can lead to the errors of all errors.”

He said Mosaic, based at the south end of Hampstead Road, “isn’t like a youth club that you might imagine – it’s more like a Sunday school for queers. We run workshops, and make sure young people are being educated and inspired to be who they are.”

Mr Konieczka said: “We started planning a Pride prom because young people have told them that they don’t want to go their school prom because they cannot be themselves.”

He warned services to help young LGBT+ people, however, needed more funding.

“We have a growing demand, just in the last year the demand for our services has grown by 150 percent,” he said. “We are simply struggling to cope – but will persevere because we are a small but strong organisation. But there are less, and less organisation like ours. Unfortunately when i first started 14 years ago there was plenty, there’s one every couple of boroughs now. They are few and far between.”

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