“Good society happens… because we make it happen” is what Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said last month at the opening of akt’s new offices in St Paul’s Learning Centre. Mr Rees kindly came down to the opening to speak about some of the socio-economic issues that face young LGBTQ+ people in the UK. 59% of LGBTQ+ young people have faced some form of discrimination or harassment while accessing services.
More than two-fifths of local authorities and housing associations in the UK have not received training on LGBTQ+ inclusion or LGBTQ+ homelessness. akt is committed to helping educate public bodies about the myriad complex issues that affect young LGBTQ+ people, and we are looking forward to working with the mayor of Bristol and his team over the coming weeks and months to help find long-lasting pathways into safe and affordable housing for the young people of Bristol.
akt was founded in 1989 by Cath Hall, a foster carer and ally who noticed a lack of specific care and support for young LGBT+ people facing issues surrounding homelessness. Since then, akt has spent 33 years supporting LGBTQ+ young people into safe homes, employment, education, or training. 24% of young people facing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+ and 77% of the young people who use our services told us that family rejection and abuse after coming out or being outed was the primary reason for their homelessness.
Many of the issues that faced young LGBTQ+ people at akt’s founding, including rejection, abuse, and lack of access to housing support and services, are still as present today as they were in 1989. Part of akt’s long term strategy is to work with policymakers and successive governments to develop a national youth homelessness strategy that will directly benefit young LGBTQ+ people by prioritising education for local authorities on issues that affect the community and monitoring data to make sure that there is specific housing support for LGBTQ+ communities in areas that need it.
Data from the young people who use akt’s services has shown that 63% of the young people we helped in Bristol between 2021 and 2022 identified as trans, non-binary or were questioning their gender identity. This is a full 15% above the 48% nationwide. Up until 2022, akt worked remotely in the area, and lots of the young people in Bristol who use our services do so digitally, so akt’s new office will be a vital lifeline for many of the young LGBTQ+ in the South West.