For some young lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans Mancunians today, coming out can lead to abuse, neglect and even homelessness.
Thankfully they now have the Purple Door, a ground-breaking initiative started by the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT).
Working with Threshold, an organisation that helps the homeless, and the New Charter Housing Group, the Purple Door provides support and housing for LGBT people living in hostile environments or facing life on the streets.
Last summer a safe house in Manchester became one of the first of its kind in Europe, a six-to-12-month program providing a secure environment for young people.
The ultimate aim of the project is to help them make the best of their lives by getting back into education, employment and training.
Residents also receive guidance on issues such as coming out in the workplace and improving self-esteem, as well as standard independent living skills, such as budgeting.
They also have access to the AKT’s portfolio of support, which offers mentoring and befriending.
The project has been described as ‘the realisation of a long held dream’ by AKT founder, Cath Hill, who set up the trust 24 years ago in the memory of Andrew Kennedy.
As a 16-year-old Kennedy ran away from a children’s home and was sadly found dead at the bottom of a multi-storey car park in Manchester after being chased by a group of homophobes.
Last year the AKT reported that they received over 1,500 calls from young people looking for advice, facing homelessness or who have been thrown out of their homes for being gay – up 30 per cent on their 2012 figure.
Tim Sigwell, AKT Chief executive, outlined the problems still faced by LGBT youths.
He said: “Despite ten years of progressive legislation which has enabled young LGBT people to feel more confident to come out at an early age, we are still seeing several hundred young people each year coming to us facing issues such as homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, domestic violence, forced marriage and bullying.”
The Purple Door initiative is completely funded by individual donors and corporate sponsorship.
If you’d like to find out how to can donate or participate in fundraising, visit www.akt.org.uk
Alternatively, if you are under 25 and are LGBT and are homeless, sofa surfing or living in a hostile or abusive environment call 0161 228 3308 or email [email protected]
Picture courtesy of tracey apps_0 via Flickr, with thanks