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Digital Subscriptions > GCN > 359 > #END YOUTH HOMELESSNESS


Earlier this year, Focus Ireland, in partnership with BeLonG To, commissioned research into LGBT+ youth homelessness in Ireland, in order to gain greater insight into the ways in which young LGBT+ people enter, exit and experience homelessness. Ahead of the publication of the study’s findings, Stephen Moloney speaks with those researching, and working at the frontline of the issue.

FOCUS Ireland

As BeLonG To’s Youth Work Manager for the last ten years, Gillian Brien finds herself at the coalface of the myriad issues facing LGBT+ young people, including homelessness. In the last three years she has witnessed the issue grow to the extent that BeLonG To’s ability to respond effectively is constrained by the wider homelessness pandemic. With a crisis as extensive as Ireland’s, she says, resources that could go towards specialist services, like those targeted towards LGBT+ young people, are quickly expended.

“We have always had people who previously never accessed our services arrive with a bag and say they need help,” she says. “We used to have places to refer LGBT+ young people; drug and alcohol free houses that could be accessed within 24 hours, a lot of which are low threshold services. But because the homelessness crisis in general has reached such a breaking point, we now have nowhere to refer these young people to. If someone was to open an LGBT+ youth safe house today, we’d have it filled in hours.”

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Welcome to one of our personal favourites - the annual Youth Issue. Inside, we hear from the next generation of LGBT+ change-makers who speak about the issues that matter to them. There’s an inspiring photo piece on the recent School Strikes For Climate Change by the wonderful Babs Daly who also captured the cover image. We look at an LGBT+ asylum seeker who entered the Direct Provision system at age 13 and there’s an essential piece on the rising numbers of homeless LGBT+ youth. We talk about the need for alcohol-free spaces for younger LGBT+ folk while inside you’ll also find the results of the EMIS survey to improve the health of gay, bi and MSM. On the entertainment side we have interviews with comedian Hannah Gadsby, the creators of the startling theatre show Faultline, and there’s a fun introduction to the next generation of drag artists. With the youth of this country demanding change, we can rest assured that if the contributors to this issue are leading the charge, the status quo is about to get a jolt. Enjoy.