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Frustration for LGBT+ charity as council pulls hostel support

Outside Project hoped Town Hall would back shelter for those at risk of violence or homeless­ness during corona­virus crisis

01 May, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

The Make Space For Homeless Queers campaign

A HOMELESS charity has been left frustrated after the council pulled its support for a temporary shelter plan for LGBTIQ+ people.

The Outside Project, which runs a LGBTIQ+ homeless shelter and community centre from the old Clerkenwell Fire Station, had unveiled plans to use a YHA hostel to provide beds for LGBT+ people at risk of violence or homeless­ness during the corona­virus crisis.

In return for council support, the Outside Project offered half of the beds to Islington to place people in need of accommodation.

An agreement was reached where the Outside Project would manage support at the hostel for local authority referrals alongside Homeless Taskforce partners Museum of Homelessness and Streets Kitchen.

But the project’s founder Carla Ecola said: “It got delayed for a few days and then I got the call saying that Islington had found alternative arrangements at the last minute which left us trying to find funding partners. But it’s been impossible to find funding partners because the funding is all allocated to rough sleeping, not hidden homeless or people fleeing abuse.”

The hostel beds were due to be set up in the YHA building on the Euston Road.

“The council offered us five LGBTIQ+ specific beds in their new hostel in return for us providing support to 25 of their residents,” said Ms Ecola.

“We don’t have the resources to take such a small offer. It’s been a real struggle to get funding for organisations like ours, and to find space for people in our community who are at risk. We’re such a specific service that I think people see us as an equality tick box rather than a marginalised group at high risk which needs a specialised ser­vice. It’s so ingrained in the historic inequalities for provision in our com­munity that people don’t see the need for our service.”

Figures show there are just 77 LGBTQI+ specific bed spaces in London, despite more than half a million identifying as members of these com­munities in the capital.

An online protest has highlighted the lack of LGBT+ beds in the capital. Spearheaded by the Voices4London group, the protest has featured members of the com­munity taking to social media holding placards which read “Make Space for Homeless Queers.”

Islington’s housing chief Labour councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “I’m disappointed that the Euston Road building didn’t work out. The Out­reach Project do brilliant work in our borough and we’d be keen to work them again in the future.”

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