Home sweet home
Join Ged McLoughlin, a gender-fluid customer of Stockport Homes, as they shed light on the harsh reality of homelessness within the young LGBT+ community and advocate for inclusive and supportive housing solutions in this powerful lived experience blog.
In 2021 Ged joined Rainbow Roofs, the customer-led group for LGBT+ social housing tenants, and explains, ” I joined the group because I am passionate about improving the lives of LGBT tenants”.
“Home sweet home”, “Home is where the heart is “, “There’s no place like home”. How many times have we heard or used those phrases?
And, for the majority of people, the sayings are true. Home is our safe space, a haven, somewhere to escape the pressures of an increasingly intimidating world.
But that is not the case for everyone. Homelessness is a sad, ever-growing blight on our society.
Far too many people, many of them youngsters, are living in temporary accommodation, sofa surfing or on the streets. No haven for them, no safe place.
If you are young, homeless, and LGBT+, that is a triple whammy. In October 2022, I was lucky enough to appear on stage at a housing conference with several colleagues from Rainbow Roofs, an LGBT+ housing group for social housing tenants across northwest England. We had been invited to discuss various topics related to the causes of anti-social behaviour and its effects on LGBT+ tenants.
During our presentation, we displayed slides on a large screen, showing facts and figures related to our speech.
At one point, we showed the numbers for the young LGBT + persons who are estimated to be homeless. I say estimated, as our figures were for confirmed cases; the actual number could be significantly higher.
As the numbers were shown on the large screen above our heads, I glanced at the audience, which was made up of representatives from housing groups across the North of England.
I could see shocked faces, heads shaking, and colleagues turning to whisper to their neighbours. “Are those figures true? How can this be happening?”
And no wonder they were shocked. The figure revealed that around 24% of young, homeless people were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. To put that into context, it was estimated that in 2020 the LGBT +population in the UK was around 3.1%.
The Albert Kennedy Trust, which supports young LGBT+ people and those living in hostile environments, has estimated that around 150,000 people are homeless as a result of intolerance.
Many of those youngsters cite parental rejection as the main cause of their homelessness, in some cases leading to abuse, aggression or violence, while a significant amount of other young LGBT+ persons say they have suffered homophobia, transphobia, sexual exploitation.
So what do housing providers need to do to help to ease this crisis?
To start with, housing groups need to set up programmes to raise awareness among their staff.
A young homeless LGBT+ person needs to feel comfortable in their surroundings, to feel it is safe to come out to whomever they are talking to. They may fear being offered an unsuitable place or worry about suffering discrimination from fellow service users. They may feel unsafe to come out about their sexuality/ gender when moving from homelessness to a tenancy for fear of rejection or abuse from neighbours.
With good reason. According to figures from the Albert Kennedy Trust, over half (59%) of young people say they have suffered prejudice, harassment or dead naming (using a trans person’s previous name) when seeking support. While almost half (44%) said they were unaware of any support available to them.
Housing providers are the core of the local community. They can lead the way to support young people seeking a home and offer a service that is welcoming, understanding, and free of prejudice.
No young person should ever have to suffer prejudice, abuse or intolerance because of their gender or sexuality.
I was raised in a very strict Irish Catholic family. LGBT+ matters were never discussed at home or at the faith schools I attended. That was many years ago. Times have changed, and attitudes have changed. But we still have a long way to go.
Pride month 2023 is almost upon us. My hope for this year is that the next time I am privileged to appear at a conference or event to speak about housing and the LGBT+ community [ my community], I can present the audience with a much more positive set of figures, something to turn those previously shocked expressions into nods of approval.
Maybe, for many young LGBT + people, it really will be “Home sweet home”.
Date: June 6, 2023 1:19 pm
Author(s): Ged McLoughlin
Categorised in: Equality Diversity & Inclusion