‘Building Bridges: How The LGBTIQ & Homeless Sector Can Work Together’

Published: 16.01.2020


On the back of Focus Ireland’s successful ‘End Youth Homelessness’ Campaign which saw Focus Ireland present over 10,000 signatures to Leinster House, urging political parties to formulate specific youth homelessness strategies inclusive of LGBTIQ supports, Focus Ireland staff Elaine Ryan and Paul Kelly travelled to Budapest to attend a study session on the topic. Elaine writes about her experience in this blog post.

This study session was entitled ‘Building Bridges: How The LGBTIQ & Homeless Sector Can Work Together’ and was organised by FEANTSA Youth, ILGA- Europe,  & True Colours United in co-operation with The Youth Department of The Directorate of Democratic Participation of The Council of Europe.

The study session took place at The European Youth Centre Budapest from the 11th – 16th of November 2019 and aimed at building shared understanding of LGBTIQ Homelessness and to develop best practices around combatting and preventing LGBTIQ Youth Homelessness.

With a number of representatives from homeless services, LGBTIQ support services and LGBTIQ specific homeless services in attendance from throughout Europe and beyond, this study session was an invaluable opportunity to discuss the specific support needs which present for this vulnerable cohort of individuals.

Global research would highlight that LGBTIQ individuals are an over-represented demographic within homeless services. Focus Ireland, in conjunction with University College Dublin and BeLonGTo Youth Services, are currently conducting research on the topic of LGBTIQ Youth Homelessness, which is the first research of its kind to be carried out in Ireland.

Global research would highlight that LGBTIQ individuals are an over-represented demographic within homeless services

Deepening services understanding of the nuanced challenges faced by the LGBTIQ community can only serve to strengthen the quality of supports offered by Focus Ireland in relation to preventing LGBTIQ homelessness and sustaining exits for those who do experience homelessness throughout their lifespan.

Deepening services understanding of the nuanced challenges faced by the LGBTIQ community can only serve to strengthen the quality of supports offered by Focus Ireland

The objectives of the study session were multifaceted, and covered a wide range of topics pertaining to the issue of LGBTIQ homelessness;

  • Raise awareness about Human Rights relayed to the intersection of youth homelessness and identifying as LGBTIQ.
  • Raise awareness about homelessness. Exploring definitions of homelessness, how the sector operates, how young people experience homelessness and changes within the sector.
  • Raise awareness about LGBTIQ identity. Understanding experiences of LGBTIQ youth, the importance of pronouns and how oppression impacts vulnerable LGBTIQ youth.
  • Understanding the role of Focus Ireland and the function this has in preventing and ending LGBTIQ homelessness.
  • Develop partnerships with other participants during the session.

The study session programme included a dynamic variety of debates, workshops, guest lectures, case studies, research presentations and reflective groups. Sessions covered topics such as vulnerabilities, ‘Housing First’ approaches, best practices, LGBTIQ and homeless statistics in a European and global context, in addition to discussions around strategies on how best to implement the learning for the participating services moving forward.

Focus Ireland intend to marry both the insight acquired through the participation at FEANTSA’s ‘Building Bridges: How The LGBTIQ & Homeless Sector Can Work Together’ study session with the LGBTIQ Youth Homelessness research findings due to be published. In doing so this would expand Focus Ireland’s knowledge to further inform our frontline staff and improve outcomes for LGBTIQ individuals presenting as homeless or at risk of homelessness.

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Tags: FEANTSA, LGBTQI, Services, Youth homelessness

Author: Elaine Ryan

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