To Be very clear, I do not mean..... Brighton and Hove City Council - I mean Our wonderful LGBTQ+ Community
Why I Am Raising LGBT+ Homelessness Inequality In Brighton and Hove
I first became homeless back in 2012. This was as a result of Domestic Violence which statistics show 1 in 10 homeless presentations are for this reason. I identify as Homosexual.
The experience I had at that time when fleeing a violent, unpredictable and complicated ex partner was nothing compared to the experience I had with the housing department at Brighton and Hove City Council. Her name was Nancy, she was a petite women, she was sat behind her desk when I approached the council. I was sofa surfing and relying on friends for support, when I approached the council back then I really had no idea of my rights as someone who is from a minority community who is disproportionately affected by homelessness compared our heterosexual counterparts.
I did not know about the equality act 2010, so when Nancy said I was not eligible for assistance with emergency housing provision I did what a lot of people do and left the council offices deflated and feeling isolated and alone. Thankfully I had great friends and they took me in. I had lost my job due to the issues my ex partner was causing in my life and work life and following some surgery on my face following an attack I tried to recover.
That was my first negative experience with the Housing Department at Brighton and Hove City Council.
Years later in 2016 I would find myself back in a position of need, but this time I was in a much worse position, I had addiction issues following a mental health breakdown, which was after seeing the man who sexually abused me as a child. That was when I returned to the Brighton and Hove City Council for help. To my horror I arrived at the Housing Department and again was passed to Nancy the same person who four years earlier fobbed me off.
The experience was equally as stressful and degrading, being told I am not vulnerable enough for support, I gave them all the facts, but the council simply said there was no housing duty. This was when I started to learn the law and educate myself on the housing act and other legislation to check for myself.
To my horror there was in fact quite a few grounds for help back then. I approach Brighton Housing Trust who were the only local organisation offering help for those who wanted to challenge the councils decision on a legal basis. They were not keen to help and caused me distress over the winter of 2015. I approached a local LGBTIQ+ charity organisation called MindOut, they were excellent in providing me with an advocate and signposting me to a few other local services to help me get back on track.
This time armed with an advocate who identified as LGBT, Brighton Housing Trust finally agreed to assist and do the legal work they are paid to provide people like me. Anyway sufficive to say it took awhile but their was in fact a legal duty to offer me housing support and the council backed down after the threat of a Judicial Review / Tribunal.
This was about an 8 week process which caused considerable stress and harm to my recovery at the time.
I later did a subject access request which is something we are all able to do, to my shock and horror the council kept no records of my first approaching them in 2012. Nancy was literally a gatekeeper, someone employed to put us off going thought the correct route when experiencing homelessness.
Was this because I was a gay man or was this something everyone experienced?
It took a few years and I’ve well documented my homelessness journey but today with the help of the LGBTIQ+ Community, including the Late James Ledgewood from GSCENE Magazine and other allies such as the Late Steve Parry, I am now living in affordable, good quality social housing which if I want it I can keep for the rest of my life. This has enabled me to be able to fully recover, bring my historic sexual abuser to justice and now today I help others like I was helped and campaign for various different things, using my lived and learned experiences.
Take Part and Sign Up For My Services
Common Issues Require Out of the Box Solutions to resolve and relieve homelessness
What Are The Common LGBTQ+ Housing and Homelessness Issues
Drug and Alcohol abuse
I have had a lot of clients who from past traumas for some reason or another, they are finding themselves stuck in a rut. The Chemsex Scene is also dangerous to the health and wellbeing of those who are homeless or insecurely housed.
Most Hidden Homeless in the LGBTQ+ Community Sofa Surf and move from place to place with little to no security and are often pray to sexual exploitation and violence.
Bullying / Hate Crimes
Bullying, Homophobia, Transphobia and other hate crimes are commonplace for many people who often flee to Brighton and Hove as a city of sanctuary. We have had LGBTQ+ Homophobia in Homelessness placements and attacks, and these continue to grow. Particularly those who identify as Trans.
Child Sexual Abuse
I find a lot of clients who I deal with have suffered some kind of abuse or sexual abuse throughout their lives, but also in childhood. Some were put in care, others came to the city for a fresh start. A lot of male clients use Mankind here in Brighton and Hove for therapy.
Very Common Reasons for homelessness, as with my own story these can cripple people and leave them powerless, and in isolation if not correctly supported and placed.
A lot of people get rooms in houses of multiple occupation or HMOs and find themselves discriminated against, some also find the local authority discriminate when they fail to take into account unique incidences of our community.
A lot come here, make new friends and start a new life, and suffer from no fault section 21 evictions or lose a job, become unwell. Relying on the local council for help can be naive when in reality the statistics show Gay Men for example have one of the lowest percentages of any demographic being accepted for help by the council.
Suicide / Death
Sadly over the years I have known a lot of LGBTQ+ people living in Brighton and Hove either take their lives deliberately or accidentally from maybe an overdose. These can really impact the wider community and always feel preventable with the right support in place.
I don’t think the so called average person realises how hard it can be to growing up to be something different, Gay, Trans, Gender Neutral, Black and Gay, Black and Trans and so on…
Whilst we have a community and when it works well there is belonging, it does not always mean this is the case and homelessness really does impact on your mental health.
This is a very big issue and one which is being picked up in local surveys and reports. A major driver to poor health, addiction and even early death, people need stimulation and to be able to socialise. Homeless clients report placements can be very isolating that they cause loneliness, a habit many struggle to change.
People have always come and gone from this fantastic city, and when someone feels like they belong, they are generally much more happy and integrated into our communities. Many Homeless Clients of mine, feel they do not belong and this can be reversed with innovative and tailored Specific LGBTQ+ Housing and Homelessness Provision here in Brighton and Hove.