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Homelessness: how it affects our society’s LGBTQ+ youth

By Yvonne Smyth, Head of Diversity & Inclusion, Hays

June is Pride month! Hays is a proud supporter of Pride and has been for many years, and we’re excited to mark the 50th anniversary of the first Pride march in London. But although this is a period to celebrate in LGBTQ+ inclusion and the relationships of friends, family and colleagues, it’s also important to look at the challenges the community battles day to day.

We wanted to take this opportunity to have a closer look at a specific aspect of the difficulties people in the LGBTQ+ community face - namely homelessness. According to the Albert Kennedy Trust’s (AKT) National Scoping review, in conjunction with LGBT Youth Homelessness, a staggering 24% of the homeless population in the UK aged between 16 and 25 define themselves as LGBTQ+. In fact, the AKT says that young people who identify as LGBTQ+ are at a much higher risk of becoming homeless than their peers.

What makes the LGBTQ+ demographic so vulnerable?

It is far more likely for a young LGBTQ+ person to become homeless than heterosexual, cisgender people of the same age. Did you know, 78% of LGBTQ+ young people say they have a lack of family support? There is also far more likelihood of violence and abuse occurring within the family against an LGBTQ+ individual, for the same reasons. This is due to many factors, the first being the increased likelihood of rejection from parents; when coming out, some people find they are forced to leave the family home, and have nowhere else to turn. They may also run away, due to the fear of coming out, feeling isolated and not being able to express who they really are.

What can homelessness lead to?

Once on the street, LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to develop problems with substance abuse, experience homophobic violence and sexual exploitation, and engage in risky behaviour, trapping them in a vicious cycle. As you can imagine, once this begins, it’s incredibly hard to escape from.

The AFT’s National Scoping Review asked people at three Pride events in the UK (London, Manchester and Newcastle), who were currently experiencing homelessness, for their thoughts. When they were asked if they’d suffered a negative impact on their physical and mental health, 83% of people said yes.

Many LGBTQ+ young people do not feel supported by the services available to them, with many saying they feel as though staff don’t understand the reasons they are homeless or how to support them. This also directly impacts employment prospects; when asked, less than 18% of the community were aware of the employment support services available to them.

How can you help?

Systemic change is the only way this situation can be improved. This Pride, why not take a look at the work that the AKT do, and consider if you could dedicate some of your time in finding out how you can help the homeless community? We also recommend reading the AKT’s LGBTQ+ Youth Homelessness Report.

At Hays UK, we’re raising money for End Youth Homelessness, an organisation that joins the forces of local charities across the country to help raise awareness, education and funding. In total, they support over 40,000 young people without housing. Hays also has an internal programme called Hays Helps, a scheme that encourages employees to take one day per year to dedicate to voluntary or charity work. One area of commitment is to the LGBTQ+ community, so we’re encouraging employees to consider using their Hays Helps day to assist a charity in this area.

About this author

Yvonne is Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Hays, working with our clients to ensure their recruitment strategies are aligned with the latest equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) policies and initiatives. She is responsible for creating and implementing diverse recruitment strategies that effectively support the representation of more diverse staff profiles within their business.

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