Foster carers needed for LGBT youth
Jess McCabe // 17 December 2008
When she was 16 and, in her own words, “a real mess”, Alex was given a placement at the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), which offers safe accommodation to young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) people. Now 18, she says that her life has “almost completely turned around”.
Alex, who is estranged from her parents and siblings, says: “I no longer feel alone in the world. I now see my carer and her partner as my family, and my carer’s parents consider me their granddaughter.
“Living there gave me a sense of what life should and could be like. It was amazing that I could be myself and not hide who I was. I was glad I was living with a female carer. It was much easier to talk about certain things with another lesbian.”
To date, hundreds of lesbian and gay young people aged 16 to 25 have been given a second chance at life after being matched with an AKT carer and offered supported accommodation in their home, but fewer than 30% of them have been cared for by women. At present, there is not one female carer on the books in London, and only three in Manchester.
The AKT has its 20th anniversary next year. From a press release they just issued:
Albert Kennedy Trust Chief Executive, Tim Sigsworth, commented: “Rejection and ejection from home are the harsh reality for many vulnerable lesbian and gay teens, and in fact the demand for our services is growing year on year. That’s why we need to ensure we’re able to help every young person who needs our vital services.
“Despite the fact that we live in supposedly more accepting and equal times for LGBT people, young people are still being rejected by parents, families and carers – often finding themselves living in an abusive or hostile environment or forced out of home and onto friends’ sofas or the streets. At present we cannot meet the demand for carer households and our service is bursting at the seams – we need money, volunteers and support to build the capacity we need to help all those young people who turn to us.
“Adolescence is a difficult time – and loneliness and depression are all too common. For some LGBT young people life is even more difficult; we know that almost two-thirds of lesbian and gay young people have been bullied and many cannot be themselves at school. If they feel unable to be themselves at home either – or if coming out to parents or carers leads to rejection, this can lead to failure to achieve at school, homelessness, emotional and mental health issues and long-term risks to their life chances.”