What is the Brighton and Hove Switchboard LGBTQ+ Night Shelter Project, who is it for and what is the specific need which it is answering?
“The shelter is by and for LGBTQ+ people aged 18+ who are experiencing homelessness, feeling unsafe where they are staying, sofa surfing or using apps to find places to sleep.
Switchboard spoke to 600 LGBTQ+ people in Brighton and Hove in 2021 and produced a report which identified that 60% of young people were experiencing an unsafe living situation, including bi/homo/transphobia in the home, concern about becoming homeless or had been made homeless during the pandemic. This was the case for 43% of all trans/non binary people and 22% of all respondents.
The high prevalence of LGBTQ homelessness is often invisible, with few services collecting data about sexual orientation or trans status. LGBTQ+ people (particularly trans, disabled and/or people of colour) are less likely to go to local authorities for assistance, fearing discrimination. Additionally, many LGBTQ people feel vulnerable in social or supported housing, experience hate crime and consequently hide their identity.”
How did the project come about and who are your partners?
“After identifying the need Switchboard hosted an LGBTQ+ housing summit in partnership with Brighton University Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender and Clarion Futures which was attended by people with lived experience and broader members from communities, charities, housing professionals, BHCC, activists and organisations with innovative services and knowledge from across the country.
We were successful in a bid to The Rainbow Fund which has enabled us to open an LGBTQ+ emergency night shelter in a secure location in the city. We have partnered with The Outside Project who opened the UK’s first and only LGBTQ+ night shelter in 2017 and have helped hundreds of people in London as well as Stonewall Housing who are the leading national charity supporting LGBTQ+ people of all ages who are experiencing homelessness or living in an unsafe environment.”
What are your hopes for the future?
”Justlife and Trans Pride Brighton and Hove will be evaluating the pilot in order to ensure we continue to improve safe housing options for LGBTQ+ people in Brighton and beyond and that we learn from the pilot what is required in the future. Our hope is that this will lead to the provision of LGBTQ+ specific safe accommodation and will also result in organisations appreciating the specific needs of LGBTQ+ people and seek training on how to provide LGBTQ+ affirmative services”
Any other info that you would like to pass on?
“We can provide between 1 to 14 nights of accommodation and the service is by referral only. We will need a referral and a full risk assessment in order to consider your application. For the safety of our guests, we can’t take direct referrals at our shelter door. All information and referral criteria can be found here”