Young, LGBT, and homeless: a growing crisis

The Homeless Link 2013 report on youth homelessness has found that over half of all cases are caused by a breakdown with parents or close relatives. It also found that rough sleeping amongst young people has risen since 2010, increasing by 15% in London alone between 2012 and 2013.

I have worked in a hostel for the homeless, and there is never enough room for everybody who needs shelter due to the overwhelming demand. This was a colossal concern even before the coalition government came to power. Today, its policies are only making the situation worse.

I recently organised a LGBT focus group with Worcester’s Labour prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) Joy Squires. We discussed a number of issues, among them problems with verbal abuse, lack of services and domestic abuse. You may ask, why is this relevant to homelessness? Research again by Homeless Link has found that parents’ “intolerance and prejudice” is a contributing factor to LGBT homelessness. Over half of all youth homelessness is related to a breakdown in parental relationships.

However, the focus group found that verbal abuse and an absence of suitably tailored services also had an impact on young LGBT peoples’ mental wellbeing. Homeless Link describe mental health issues as a leading cause of LGBT youth homelessness. In order to combat LGBT youth homelessness, then, a holistic approach to reducing homophobia is essential.

However, with ongoing cuts to local authorities it is unlikely we will be able to reverse the rising trend of youth homelessness any time soon. We must campaign in our councils to prioritise specialist services and help for homeless young people. We also need to work with our Labour PPCs, like Joy Squires, to help reduce homophobic attacks.

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