Last week brought the sad news that another person who was experiencing homelessness and was housed in supported accommodation sadly took his own life. This young male who is a born and raised Brightonian was also a part of the LGBTQ+ Community and had deep roots across the city, so it was very much a shock to hear the news that Ben took his own life.
It is deeply important we remember these people, these people who for whatever reason take this path. The effects on others, such as family members left behind can be tough, some parents are progressive and take kindness knowing they are no longer in pain, just like the brave mother of another young gay male who took his life last week and also had links to Brighton and Hove.
I have written the following letter to the current administration and I urge the next administration to act on this issue.
“Dear Stepth, Phelim and Martin,
I hope you are well. Sadly some very awful news. I have attached an image of someone who was LGBTQ and living in homeless accommodation, he had significant mental health and drug issues and this is very sad to see yet another in our community dying whilst homeless and housed. I understand this was supported. He was a young person.
Not emailing to place blame, but to plead yet again to listen to the community and act in gaining an in-house specific LGBTQ+ homeless accommodation, we need to stop these needless deaths, he was a lovely lad, but clearly some trauma, where was the support? How did this happen?
I am going to report this to the Museum of Homelessness, and add to the memory wall for sadly another preventable & needless homeless housed death here in Brighton and Hove.
I felt you should be aware!
I cannot thank you all enough. The tender,loving,prayerful & compassionate responses to my son Costya's death on Friday have given me hope & peace. For all of you who have experienced this, & worse, for all of you just being beautiful & kind, thank you. #addiction #RecoveryPosse pic.twitter.com/Gi5ZmBnMS5— Antonia Rolls (@AntoniaRolls) February 26, 2023
Providing safe housing for LGBTQ+ People Experiencing Homelessness
I cannot stress the importance of this city listening to those affected by homelessness and from the very community calling for a solid commitment to providing or purchasing an accommodation which can be used as specific LGBTQ+ Homeless Housing here in Brighton and Hove.
In-house accommodation can also provide a level of stability and continuity that can be difficult to achieve in other types of housing. When young LGBTQ+ people are homeless, they often have to move around frequently and may struggle to build lasting relationships or connections in their community. With in-house homeless accommodation, young people can stay in one place for longer periods of time, which can help them to build connections and establish a sense of belonging.
In addition to providing stability, in-house specific LGBTQ+ accommodation can also offer young people the opportunity to receive more targeted and specialised support. This can be especially important for young people who may have experienced trauma or other challenges in their lives.
I also wrote to the LGBT Switchboard & The Rainbow Fund to Raise this issue
I cannot stand by any longer and allow these homeless housed deaths to continue, how many more before those in power act and listen? I want an inquiry into these deaths, many have protected characteristics and to not investigate why this is happening on such mass in the city, is to dishonour those people who have died whilst housed and homeless here in Brighton and Hove.
I got this response from the LGBT Switchboard:
“As you are aware Switchboard are providing LGBTQ+ emergency night shelter accommodation in our pilot alongside Stonewall Housing/The Outside Project.This has been funded by the Rainbow Fund.
However, we have had to turn away some referrals as they have high support needs such as more serious mental health conditions, substance misuse and previous convictions. Our pilot is not resourced to provide this level of support, so we are aware that even with the pilot there is significant unmet need.
- Service users have reported fear of entering funded accommodation. Some are people who have been within homeless services and have been victims of sexual assault and homo/bi/transphobia.
- Trans/non binary people fear being placed in accommodation which is not aligned with their gender and leaving them exposed to transphobic abuse.
- Community support is a recognised protective factor for LGBTQ+ people and so there is a strong desire from residents to be in a by and for space where they feel safe and where they can be connected with other LGBTQ+ people
- There is also relief from residents to be able to talk to and be assessed by LGBTQ+ housing professionals/volunteers who understand the specific issues facing our communities.”
We are constantly asked by council officers to provide evidence of need, which we do continuously so something truly has to give. I still believe we the community affected by homelessness have the answers and solutions to preventing these deaths. It starts with those in power listening. To not listen is to be part of the issue.
R-I-P Ben & Costya. Two Souls Lost too soon. Fly! xx
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