February is LGBTQ+ History Month in the UK! This is a dedicated time for us all to honour and celebrate the LGBTQ+ community whilst also highlighting the journey they have been on, both trials and triumphs.
Coming out, or being outed as LGBTQ+, can sadly lead to young people being made homeless – even in 2022. Around 24% of young people experiencing homelessness in the UK are LGBTQ+, which is significantly disproportionate. Once homeless, LGBTQ+ young people are more likely to face violence and discrimination than young people who aren’t LGBTQ+.
AKT is the national LGBTQ+ youth homelessness charity supporting young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are experiencing homelessness or living in a hostile environment. They support young people into safe homes and employment, education or training, in a welcoming and open environment that celebrates LGBTQ+ identities.
This month we will be donating £1 for every bottle sold of our Hand + Body Wash with Kiwi Water to AKT. Our Hand + Body Wash is made with repurposed Kiwi Water from the juicing industry to calm and protect the skin with its anti-inflammatory properties. It is formulated with Lemongrass Oil to soothe dry skin whilst also being antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal. Blended with Mandarin Oil it is antiseptic and protective to the skin. Rich in Glycerin, it locks in moisture and hydrates skin.
Partnering with AKT has been a great time for the UpCircle team to further educate ourselves on LGBTQ+ history. We interviewed James Bates, a supporter care officer at AKT, to delve deeper into the amazing work that is being done there.
What does AKT do?
“Akt, previously known as the Albert Kennedy Trust, is a UK registered charity that works with LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or living in a hostile environment. We support young people into safe homes and better futures through housing advice, emergency accommodation, mentoring and peer support because we believe that no one should have to choose between having somewhere safe to stay, and being themselves.”
How can we get involved with AKT?
“There are loads of ways to get involved with AKT! Whether you’re running a marathon, streaming on Twitch, or selling rainbow cupcakes, we would love to see how creative you can be. Donations of any size will help us to support the young LGBTQ+ people who make up 24% of homeless people aged 16-25.”
How to access AKTs services
“If you’re an LGBTQ+ young person aged 16-25 and you don’t have somewhere safe to live, you can access AKT’s services from anywhere in the UK. Just go to our website at akt.org.uk and click on the Live Chat on the bottom left of the page. You’ll be connected to one of our helpline staff, who will ask basic questions about your situation to ensure you’ve come to the right place, then connect you to one of our caseworkers.”
How do donations help further AKT's mission?
“At AKT, we’re really proud of our community support, which allows us to provide a person-centred, holistic service for LGBTQ+ young people. Donations of any size have such an impact. Just £10 can provide someone with a basic mobile phone, helping them to stay connected with their caseworker, their friends, and supportive family members. £35 is one night of emergency accommodation, while £100 could provide clean bedding and towels for up to four young people. You can do so much to make a difference!”
What are 3 things we can all do this LGBT+ history month?
“There are so many easy things we can all do to celebrate LGBT+ History Month. The UK has a rich LGBTQ+ history, but so few people know about it!
Firstly, take the time to learn about an LGBTQ+ figure you don’t know much about, whether that’s Anne Lister, Edward Carpenter, or Cecil Belfield Clarke.
You can also read books by LGBTQ+ people, whether that’s classics like Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray or modern bestsellers like Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue.
Finally, LGBTQ+ history doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s still relevant today. If you’ve learned about the way LGBTQ+ people were persecuted in the past, it’s time to support us today, by contacting your MP in support of banning conversion therapy and reforming the Gender Recognition Act.”
How can we find out more about LGBT+ history?
“If like me, you love LGBTQ+ history, there are great resources to help you learn more.
If you have a Netflix account, you have access to the documentaries The Queen and Paris is Burning in order to learn about the ballroom culture that inspired modern TV shows like Ru Paul’s Drag Race and Pose. Or you can check out Lesflicks, an indie streaming platform, for its catalogue of documentaries about LBTQ+ women.
Finally, books by authors like Christine Burns, Norena Shopland and Jen Manion are written by LGBTQ+ people about our history, and are freely available from organisations like Gender Community Lending Library.”
You can find more resources from books to podcasts on the UpCircle blog. If you have any suggestions, do not hesitate to let us know!