With the initiative having from the outset national level use, and relevance to any given city, town, county, district, the Network, that originated in the BCP area has been able to over the past six months (from February to August 2021) run a very valuable key relevant stakeholders outreach & engagement exercise, which is now [mid-August 2021] complete. The intension was to gain experience that would be valuable in multiple different locations across the UK.
Bournemouth in particular has a for its population size, major homeless community, and is recognised to have the fifth or sixth largest LGBT+ population in England. As such, in principle, the BCP conurbation offers the best possible national replication test conditions factors for a concerted multi-agency coordinated linked-up approach to LGBT homeless & hidden homeless support. Equally it presents nationally relevant factors that to date have prevented such a joined up approach.
The conurbation also has a dedicated Council led Homeless Partnership, which has the potential to be the ideal mechanism for the multi-agency coordination. We first approached the Partnership over a year ago in regard to establishing within it a dedicated group or section that would include committed homeless support organisations and the local authority’s housing department.
There was from the Partnership lead instant enthusiasm concerning this, yet with it being very well-known that a) LGBT homelessness is a distinct phenomenon (24% of the total younger homeless population are from our LGBT & LGBTQ community) separate to that of the broader homeless community, and b) that as a distinct phenomenon clear dedicated solutions were and are required, a year on – A YEAR ON — no action on setting up a dedicated LGBT homeless support sub-group in the Partnership has been taken despite polite but clear reminders on this provided to the Partnership lead by the Network.
This indicates either unstated opposition within established elements of the Partnership, or that the needs of the LGBT homeless and at risk of homelessness are Not a priority for the Partnership.
The Network became a member of the Partnership over a year ago, and found after the initial enthusiasm and promise for action, the promise was progressively diluted (we must and are intending to set up a minority communities sub-group and an LGBT dimension within this will be provided, etc. etc.) to an aspirational, inactive level, and eventually no contact.
This is a valuable experience for it will have parallels across the country. The Network concern is that embedded in such traditional, conventional homeless support partnerships there are many religious-based/associated organisations, that de-facto have dynamic active association with religions OR forms of religions that have major, historic associations with persecution of LGBT people, and ‘conversion therapy’ approaches to LGBTQ youth in particular.
Homeless support organisations and charities that have such associations would be looked to have minimal interest in effective support to the LGBT homeless community as such support clashes with core more non-inclusive traditional religious values and perspectives where same-sex love is concerned.
As such, this experience indicates valuable learning relevant to any part of the UK where going to such established traditional homeless support collaboratives are concerned. The main lesson is that such traditional multi-group homeless support partnerships cannot be the main focus for effective support to our LGBT homeless community. In contrast the three component model below negates such factors, and meets all of the key support needs for our community members who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to family rejection/anti-LGBT oppression, conversion ‘therapy’ type abuse, etc.
It is our hope that the Partnership can reassess its communication and support record in regard to the necessary actions. It must be stressed that the Partnership is a BCP Council based/strategically linked one.
Council Housing Department record dimension:
The Network has found a comparable record of inaction and ‘pass the parcel’ (one official passing to another, to another, etc. from the same Council’s Housing Department). This record of many months standing has been very disappointing given the size of the conurbation’s LGBT community. The Network had asked in early 2021, to the Council’s Housing Department: a) what dedicated LGBT community safehouse emergency accommodation does the Council have and if none or minimal what signposting to demonstrated LGBT dedicated or LGBT safe & proven to be competent in LGBT support third parties do you signpost. After an enormous amount of time spent by the Network seeking answers to these basic questions, a meeting was arranged with the relevant Council housing department officer, by the Partnership admin/office lead (who attended the meeting). The outcome was still that no clear answers could be given to the two
Conclusions: at best we have to-date (and e absolutely wish to see a real change now from both take place with Action not evasiveness and timewasting) found that where the Partnership (and in this we are speaking about leadership/admin only not the concept of the Partnership itself or it’s membership per se) is concerned there is still an inability to answer those basic questions beyond a non-timelined aspiration that Diverse Communities particular needs, including LGBT are going to be looked into and in a year or so potentially clearer support may be possible. For those in crisis from our LGBT community this de-facto indolent approach is not credible or acceptable. The Network has received cases from LGBT homeless community members on the frontline of this failure. In states of major crisis they too found their hopes crushed and precious time wasted. In one case we learned from a client that they had to leave the area, and eventually found a local authority that was supportive, but some 200+ miles away.
Other: national dimensions
Parallel to the above, the initiative covered national level agencies and supportive organisations from within the LGBT+ community and broader homeless community support sectors. This dimension to the initiative is continuing and we will be providing more information on this in October.
About the Network initiative:
The initiative in support to our LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ homeless and hidden homeless communities has been developed to provide:
- ‘Need to know’ knowledge on the origins, characteristics/dimension, and solutions information resources for all those with interest in or obligations & commitments to support the communities from both preventative as well as assistance to move into positions of safety and progression to being free to lead full and fulfilling lives for those community members who have been homeless.
- The core primary support need being mental healthcare services orientated one, our initiative has developed information resources for NHS mental healthcare service providing organisations, with focus on mental healthcare professionals foremost, and admin staff that take the initial often life-breaking or life-making calls from LGBT+ and especially LGBTQ+ community members who have been driven to become homeless for their safety or mental health preservation reasons.
- Beyond NHS healthcare provision support, the preventative and alert to potential vulnerable individuals (commonly in the 14 – 16 years of age group, dimension of needed awareness our initiative identifies is in the college / Further Education age range. Information on the LGBT homeless phenomenon causes and mental health dimensions provided to these education service providers constitutes the next core level of approach and support the Network initiative provides.
These education providers to have the information resource referred to for relevant staff awareness & dedicated training and/or intranet use derived from the latter, and with annual LGBT community celebration and awareness calendar fixtures (LGBT History Month, Pride Month, IDAHOBIT, Transgender Day of Remembrance, Mental Health Awareness Day, etc.) always featuring the LGBT homeless phenomenon to staff and students.
- For given local area LGBT organisations, such as especially Prides, and also LGBT businesses (especially clubs, bars, cafes) to be involved to promote ‘go to’ signposting and direct support organisations, particularly NHS, LGBT homeless support services, and connection to the education sector (2.).
The Network initiative involves emphasis on the above, with NHS services provision as the anchor.
- A model for broader homeless support sector multi-agency working across stakeholders involved in the homeless support sector based on the three fundamentals above
The Network LGBT homeless initiative information resources have been created and disseminated broadly, and as our first priority for implementation these resources concentrate on mental health care support services in partnership with the NHS.
Regarding this work on deployment of the resources is currently taking place for healthcare professionals and admin staff assistance and related training with the pan-Dorset Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
This of course is the core, anchor work of the Network’s initiative, as mental healthcare credible LGBT appropriate and LGBT competent delivered NHS mental healthcare for our LGBT homeless and at risk of homelessness is the primary level of support needed to make a real difference to members of the latter. Without it the secondary and tertiary levels of support cannot be effectively engaged.
From October 2021, this LGBT+ & LGBTQ+ communities supportive Network – NHS (DHC) work will be complete and formally launched for the benefit of all LGBT homeless community and at risk of homelessness due to anti-LGBT prejudice, violence, oppression in the pan-Dorset area through DHC services.