Family breakdown ‘single biggest cause’ of youth homelessness

11% of those supported by Centrepoint have disclosed being part of the LGBTQ+ community.

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As Pride month is celebrated across the UK, leading charity Centrepoint has revealed 11% of the young people it supports identify as LGBTQ+.

With released figures only covering those who had disclosed their sexual orientation, family breakdown is attributed to be the single biggest cause of youth homelessness, accounting for roughly two-thirds of all cases.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), 93% of the UK population identifies as heterosexual, 2% identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, 0.6% identify as ‘other’, and 4.1% do not know or refuse to answer.

The proportion of people who have been homeless, sofa-surfed or stayed somewhere they felt unsafe before they were 25 has increased from 12% to 26% over the past 50 years, according to reports.

A further 103,000 young people are also reported to ask for help each year because they are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

According to Centrepoint, this comes at a time when the housing crisis and increased cost of renting is forcing young people across the country to rely on family support to meet their housing costs.

Research also found the proportion of young people relying on income contributions from parents and grandparents has leapt from 11% to 36% since the charity was set up 50 years ago, with a further 24%-48% of young people moving back into their family home after moving out.

As highlighted in reports, 16-year-old Becca lived with her nan growing up when living at her mother’s house became difficult.

After disclosing that she was a lesbian, Becca was kicked out of her nan’s home, forced to move into a hostel with others who found themselves homeless because they were gay.

“I think young people are always going to be made homeless because of their sexuality. One of my friends in Liverpool recently came out as bisexual and he got jumped by four guys,” said Becca.

“It seems on the surface that it’s getting better, but really nothing is changing. There are only a few communities you can be safe in and be yourself in.

“Once I got in touch with Centrepoint and met Gareth, a member of staff there who helped me, that was the most support I’ve ever had in my life. You find family in the strangest places,” she said.

Monica Gallo, a psychotherapist employed in Centrepoint’s health team, said: “Identifying as LGBTQ+ is absolutely a factor in young people becoming homeless. There is still a lot of stigma and intolerance.

“Young people at Centrepoint may already have experienced familial rejection, violence or abuse. Think how much this might increase if the young person identifies as LGBTQ+.”

Gallo continued: “Many people would be surprised to find out that accepting their own gender and/or sexual identity is not a big struggle I see among the LGBTQ+ young people I work with.

“I think this shows how far this generation has come in comparison to previous generations. The issue now is how to manage other people in their lives who may not accept their identity.

“This is where their own acceptance may come into question as they may feel they aren’t worthy of love or respect or happiness, particularly when it is a family member or close friend who has expressed this negative attitude towards who they are.”

At Centrepoint’s Patron last week, the Duke of Cambridge said he would “fully support” his children if they came out as LGBT – said by the charity to be a “significant milestone” in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights globally.

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