ON THE GROUND: The Albert Kennedy Trust

Scheme Programme to recruit and train lesbian and gay carers to provide secure housing for lesbian, gay and bisexual teenagers who have either run away from home or are at risk of becoming homeless.

Funding £300,000 a year from sources including Bridge House Estates Trust Fund, the National Lottery and Northern Rock Foundation. A further £204,363 from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund over three years to expand into Derry, Belfast and Cardiff.

Objectives To provide safe and secure housing for homeless lesbian, gay and bisexual youth or for those living in a hostile environment, and prevent mental health issues such as self-harm and suicide attempts arising from this group.

In 1989, a homeless gay boy was found dead in a Manchester car park.

Sixteen-year-old Albert Kennedy had taken refuge in the multi-storey car park to escape a gang of "gay bashers". The events that followed are unclear but his death sparked Cath Hall, a foster carer, and members of the lesbian and gay community in Manchester to form the Albert Kennedy Trust.

Kennedy had run away from a children's home as a result of his sexuality.

Half of the 180 young gay, lesbian and bisexual people which the trust helps each year have had experience of bullying and abuse in the care system. Through advertising in the gay press, and taking referrals from youth groups, social workers and homelessness agencies, the trust makes contact with these young people and acts to rehouse them.

In partnership with social services, it helps place young people under 16 in foster care in lesbian or gay households. The households can be single, couples, with or without children, the essential criteria being a spare room available in a safe tolerant environment.

Sixteen to 18 year olds are given supported lodgings with carers who undergo police checks and receive an allowance to cover expenses. The trust's database of carers in London, Manchester and, from early next year, Brighton, offer lodgings on an emergency respite basis or for up to two years. Social workers provide back up support and help runaway teenagers to make contact with their parents.

A housing project of six flats is under way in Manchester, manned by a housing worker and in partnership with the three North West-based housing associations. The flats will provide a secure environment for over eighteens who are not able to cope with mainstream services.

The level of abuse that young gay people experience in the care system or at home can result in depression, self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse.

Carers receive a basic training on how to identify mental health issues and can refer young people to counselling services such as PACE, a project for the gay and lesbian community.

The trust has offices in London and Manchester and runs with a full-time staff of a director, three full-time social workers and office support.

Other services provided are information, advocacy and mentoring programmes.

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