AKT Turns 25, but still so much to do

Today (July 7th) marks the 25th anniversary of the UK’s Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) youth homelessness charity, The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT), celebrated with a Reception at Manchester Town Hall hosted by Lord Mayor of the City of Manchester, Councilor Susan Cooley. 

Born in Manchester out of the LGBT activism of the 70’s and 80’s a group of volunteers, led by Cath Hall, sought to address the rejection and abuse LGBT youth faced just for being brave enough to come out to their parents, care giver of peers. Starting by providing safe homes with LGBT positive carers and later mentoring the charity soon spread to meet need in London and more recently in 2013 merged with Outpost Housing in Newcastle to ensure services to LGBT youth in Newcastle were protected. 

Despite legislation which has sought to establish a more fair and equal society, we are in a time were young people are facing greater challenge than ever before, in particular around homelessness and debt. In North America a crisis in youth homelessness has led charities to come together to develop a solution. Whilst at the Albert Kennedy Trust the number of bed nights we have provided to young people has risen from 3,000 to almost 8,000 in 12 month; we are predicting a further 50% rise this year. 

In 2013 AKT opened the UK’s first emergency accommodation, ‘Purple Door’, exclusively for LGBT fleeing violence or homelessness. The Albert Kennedy Trust has exciting plans for 2014-15 to develop more innovative and nationally significant services for young people. 

Next month the Albert Kennedy Trust will release findings from the first national survey of LGBT youth homelessness. We will not only use this information to inform our own growth nationally to meet real need, but also to inform the decisions of ministers, local government and housing providers. We hope to inform decisions around welfare and housing benefits to the under 25’s whilst providing a clear case for the provision of more safe and affordable housing for young people facing abuse and rejection. 

Tim Sigsworth, CEO of The Albert Kennedy Trust, said: “My hope for the next 25 years is that AKT will no longer be needed, because society has reached a level of equality and fairness where young people are accepted by their families and mainstream provisions truly recognizes and meets their needs.” 

Cath Hall, Founder Patron of AKT said: “There’s still work to be done, there is still a lot of negativity about which means the trust now has more young people coming to us than ever before. The economic climate at the moment is making it very tough for young people to survive, things are very very difficult.” 

The Albert Kennedy Trust is very proud in their anniversary year to have been taken on as one of the Millivres Prowler Group’s charities to support. With their help AKT is calling on everyone who cares about the welfare of young people to become involved by participating in their 25th anniversary challenge events or hosting an ‘AKT Party’ to raise essential funds to ensure no young person has to experience homelessness, rejection or abuse. Get in touch via: contact@akt.org.uk or visit www.akt.org.uk to find out more and get involved.