Building a stronger community with the UK’s leading LGBTQI youth homelessness charity 🌈🏠
BY CHARLIE JORDIN. IMAGE SADIE SINNER BY CLAIRE LEACH
One in four young people at risk of homelessness identify as LGBTQI – and 40% of the young people the UK’s youth homelessness charity, akt, work with, identify as female.
As the new LGBTQI-inclusive Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) guidelines aim to ensure that the next generation of young LGBTQI people see themselves reflected in the curriculum – a huge cause for celebration – the very same news revealed an ugly side to contemporary British society.
Soon after, there followed an anti-LGBTQI backlash which led to teachers, young people and parents within the community (as well as allies) feeling threatened and ostracised.
This reaction demonstrates the importance of akt’s work with LGBTQI youth. Not only do the charity support young people who’ve been rejected from their families with safe homes, employment, education and training, akt’s passionate and dedicated services team provide a caring and safe environment in which young people can celebrate their identity – an opportunity many will have never had before.
That’s why, on the 1 June 2019, we’re celebrating LGBTQI identities at the akt Youth Conference, an annual event in central London that aims to bring LGBTQI young people together to meet like-minded individuals, learn and develop skills and make friends for life!
The line-up of panellists and workshops includes incredible women and non-binary activists, creatives and charity workers, including curator of The Cocoa Butter Club and keynote speaker, Sadie Sinner; writer and speaker Tanya Compas; and MTV EMA Generation Change Award winner Ellen Jones.
“I have rarely worked with a charity that has such a commitment to diversity, inclusion and accessibility,” says Ellen.
“They have been one of the nicest, kindest charities to work with.”
Despite the diversity of the community, it can sometimes feel that white, cis gay men’s voices are still heard the loudest. People of colour, women and non-binary people in particular can feel excluded, ignored and under-represented.
“In a culture that still has such a narrow descriptive of who or what a women should be, and what non-binary should look like, we really wanted to make sure we had a really diverse range of women and non-binary people involved,” adds Zoe Birkinshaw, Youth Engagement Officer at akt.
The theme for this year’s conference is Building Stronger Communities.
“By this we mean empowered, diverse and responsive communities. Young people have always been at the forefront of social change and in bringing this conference together, we are looking to support and help build this movement,” continues Birkinshaw.
“I think that while there has always been such incredible leadership from women and non-binary in the LGBTQI community, both women and non-binary people can also be made really invisible within community spaces.
“I think bringing people together in a social and political climate that intentionally and also unintentionally misunderstands LGBTQI people and communities is an important and powerful thing to do.”
The conference was also co-organised by an amazing team of young LGBTQI volunteers, who work closely with akt to ensure the event continues to resonate with young people.
“At 16, I attended my first pride event as an out and proud lesbian, which was a great experience for me,” says programme and volunteer lead, Amy.
“Queer spaces and queer events were less accessible to me than they are now and I am so grateful that the likes of akt can provide financial support for young people to attend.
“Our team has worked hard to ensure the conference will be a safe space for everyone, where people can be themselves and be celebrated for that.”
If you’re aged 16-25 and LGBTQI, you’re invited to the akt Youth Conference. The event is now sold-out but you can join the waiting list here, akt.org.uk/youth. Follow akt, @aktcharity
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