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  • Date: 28/06/2024

Creating a specialist, safe and secure home for LGBTQ+ people facing homelessness

Concrete Senior Operations Manager, Dean Marsh, has shared more about Phoenix House and the value placed on customer safety while mobilising the specialist LGBTQ+ scheme earlier this year. Click here to read the full comment piece on Inside Housing.

When we launched the Phoenix service in April 2023, I knew that it was only the first step in our journey to providing specialist housing to people experiencing gender and sexuality struggles alongside homelessness.

Being part of the LGBTQ+ community, it was already close to my heart, but after researching and seeing how many people are isolated from their family homes for simply being themselves, I just knew that it was something we had to launch.

Stonewall research shows almost one in five LGBT people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives’ and according to AKT, 77% of LGBTQ+ young people gave “family rejection, abuse or being asked to leave home’’ as a cause of their homelessness.

These stats are heartbreaking. As homelessness specialists, we’ve always maintained that homelessness can happen to anybody – no matter what your background is. This is particularly true for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Dean Marsh

While we provide support to absolutely everyone, and have served the community for many years, we didn’t have that dedicated service, or accommodation scheme, that was totally specialist for them.

Informed by the lived experience of people who had experienced homelessness alongside being LGBTQ+, Phoenix was born, and it was an incredible step forward for us – both at Concrete and across our city as a whole. The hub went from strength to strength, beginning as telephone support, and it wasn’t long before it expanded to include a dedicated LGBTQ+ Caseworker too, thanks to funding from Stoke-on-Trent City Council. But we were already thinking about the next chapter – how could we have even more of an impact? The solution was an accommodation scheme.

Many of our customers find themselves excluded from different housing options due to their sexuality. Trans customers tell us that feel unsafe in gendered male/female schemes and gay customers have reported facing homophobia in previous shared homes. We wanted somewhere welcoming, but most importantly safe, for them to call home.

While we were excited, we knew that the mobilisation of Phoenix House had to be carefully considered. Building safety and the location of a new scheme is always a priority for us, but even more so when we were developing a home for a particularly vulnerable customer group.

A specialist LGBTQ+ scheme needed to be in a discreet location, to protect customer’s privacy and help them feel safe, so we settled on a quiet residential area, which was the perfect fit. It featured spacious en-suite rooms for total privacy and independence, large communal areas, an outdoor space and on-site support from the LGBTQ+ Caseworker.

As we continued to develop, we began to draw on in-house support. Being part of Honeycomb Group gives us a really unique opportunity to receive expertise and guidance from our specialist teams. This includes our Compliance team, who provided practical support on our building safety to make sure we remain compliant and maintain a safe home for residents. This is something that continues now the scheme is up and running.

It's just the beginning for Phoenix. We’ve had fantastic results so far, with over 50 local LGBTQ+ people helped through housing and support, and we’re looking forward to building on this. Everyone deserves a safe place to call home, so we’ll continue to provide this for our communities, no matter what their gender or sexuality is.