26 June 2024

The Homelessness Partnership BCP is to launch a major homelessness prevention drive for the LGBTQ+ community in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.

The Partnership – made up of 50 local organisations that are committed to ensuring everyone has a safe place to call home – will be offering support to LGBTQ+ people at the Bourne Free pride event, which takes place at Meyrick Park on 5-6 July.

Image credit: Bourne Free

Charity Stonewall claims that almost one in five LGBTQ+ people experience homelessness at some point in their lives. According to the Albert Kennedy Trust, 24% of young people experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+ and 77% believe that coming out to their parents was the main factor.

To ensure the BCP community is supported year-round to prevent homelessness, and not just during the summer Pride season, the Homelessness Partnership BCP has also launched a dedicated LGBTQ+ support area on its website: www.hpbcp.org/i-need-lgbtq-support

Bourne Free Co-Chair, Dawn Lewis, said homelessness prevention is “critically important” for the LGBTQ+ community in BCP due to “several unique challenges faced by the group”.

Dawn explained: “Many LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly youth, experience rejection from their families and communities, leading to a higher risk of homelessness. Discrimination and stigmatisation in housing and employment also exacerbate this issue, making it more difficult for LGBTQ+ individuals to find and maintain stable living conditions.

“A pride event like Bourne Free is essential as it celebrates diversity and serves as a vital platform for raising awareness and providing support. Such events help to connect individuals with resources, support networks and organisations that can assist in preventing homelessness. By fostering a sense of belonging and community, pride events empower LGBTQ+ individuals, reduce isolation and promote mental and emotional well-being.”

The Homelessness Partnership BCP will be active at Bourne Free, promoting its Let’s Talk Renting service. People renting privately can call 01202 985104 for free advice on rent arrears, eviction notices, mould, damp, property disrepair and anti-social behaviour.

Kate Parker, Strategic Lead at Shelter Dorset, said: “We know from our research that gay and lesbian people are twice as likely to be discriminated against when looking for a home. This campaign will play a vital role in raising awareness and providing homelessness support to the LGBTQ+ community. We encourage anyone who is struggling to get help and advice as soon as they can.”

Jack Cannon, Team Leader at St Mungo’s Northover Court, pointed out that LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender people, are at risk of violence. Jack said: “Some may engage in sex work as a means of survival, increasing their vulnerability. Addressing these issues with the partnership is vital to reducing homelessness and ensuring all LGBTQ+ individuals have access to safe, inclusive and supportive housing solutions.”

At BCP Council, Homelessness Partnerships Coordinator Fraser Nicholson explained why the local authority is backing the LGBTQ+ homelessness prevention drive.

Fraser said: “At a time where homelessness of all forms has been continuing to rise nationally, and is affecting people that may not have previously been at risk of losing their accommodation, we know that some groups remain at higher disproportionate risk.  This is certainly the case with the LGBTQ+ community, particularly young people and trans people, and we are committed to tackling this lack of equality as a local partnership.”

At the LGBT+ Network for Change, Network Lead Officer Alan Mercel-Sanca said enhanced support for the “LGBTQ+ homeless and sofa surfing community was badly needed”.

Alan said: “Mental health support is a core foundation of our approach, given the extreme distress caused by prejudice and attempted conversion practices of those finding themselves in the terrible position of LGBTQ+ homelessness. We’ve been engaging the NHS in this joined-up partnership approach from the outset – a unique initiative.”

To find support from the Homelessness Partnership BCP, go to www.hpbcp.org/i-need-lgbtq-support. To discover more about Bourne Free, visit www.bournefree.co.uk.