Youth LGBTQ+ homelessness and dog ownership – how akt and Together Through Homelessness support young LGBTQ+ homeless dog owners this Pride and beyond

Home should be a place of safety and security, yet in the UK, many young people find themselves without one. A staggering 136,000 young people were estimated to be experiencing or at risk of homelessness in 2022/23 according to youth homelessness charity Centrepoint. While homelessness is on the rise for all young people in the UK, sadly young LGBTQ+ people are at an even higher risk of losing their home and face additional challenges when trying to access support. According to research by youth LGBTQ+ homelessness charity akt, it’s estimated that LGBTQ+ homeless youth make up 24% of all young people experiencing homelessness. With rising levels of pet ownership in recent years, we know that more and more LGBTQ+ young people are dog owners and are facing these challenging situations with their four-legged companions.

Our Together Through Homelessness scheme supporting dog owners experiencing or at risk of homelessness is also seeing a rise in demand from people from across the country who are facing homelessness with their dogs. People like Marc* who became homeless at the age of 19 because of homophobia in his family home. Marc was sofa surfing for four months with his dog Lola* after being kicked out by his stepdad. During this time Marc noticed a lump on Lola’s body and booked an appointment at his local vet practice. He was told by the vets that it was cancer of the uterus and that Lola needed treatment urgently. Having lost his home and support network so recently, Marc was struggling financially and didn’t have enough money to cover the estimated costs.

 Photo by Olivia Hemingway

We were able to fund the cancer treatment for Lola and are continuing to support Marc with ongoing funding for Lola’s preventative vet care and dog food. Since Lola’s treatment, Marc shared with us:

‘’Once I had Lola’s cancer diagnosis, my mental health deteriorated significantly. The thought of losing her was just too much for me. Knowing that Together Through Homelessness could help me help Lola was what enabled me to get on top of things. This peace of mind also meant that I was able to look after my housing too.’’

Sadly, we know Marc’s story is one of many where young LGBTQ+ dog owners have lost their homes simply because of who they are. akt’s recent research for their Youth Homelessness Report reveals that over 60% felt threatened by their families before becoming homeless, and half feared being kicked out because of their sexuality or gender identity. With the majority of young LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness struggling to form friendships, their dog can often become their only source of comfort and warmth during a challenging time. This makes their bond with their dogs even stronger than that of people who don’t experience the same isolation and the mental health problems associated with it.

With less than half of young LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness aware of the support services available and the fear of discrimination within them, it is difficult for them to access the support they need to be able to resolve their homelessness and stay with their beloved dogs. This is why we work with partner organisations, such as akt, to ensure there is a direct and smooth referral pathway to our free vet care scheme. By working together, we know we can keep more young LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness and their dogs together.

If you are a young LGBTQ+ person experiencing homelessness, you are not alone. Get in touch with akt to explore how they may be able to support you. You can also get in touch with us here to get support with your dog’s vet care costs.

We are also open to working with other specialist support services for young and LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness with their dogs. Please do not hesitate to get in touch and find out more about how we can work together to help people stay with their pets.

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