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  • Date: 16/02/2024

Meet the LGBTQ+ Caseworker providing specialist homelessness support in Stoke-on-Trent

Last summer, with support from Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Honeycomb Group secured funding from the Government’s Rough Sleeping Initiative to expand on our existing homelessness support within the LGBTQ+ community.

Funding enabled our homelessness specialist Concrete to expand on the Phoenix service – which was already delivering LGBTQ+ homelessness support via a weekly phone line – to appoint it’s very first LGBTQ+ Caseworker, Courtney Jennings.

LGBTQ+ Caseworker, Courtney Jennings

Stonewall research shows almost ‘1 in 5 LGBT people have experienced homelessness at some point in their lives’[1] 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’.[2]

Courtney’s role helps to beat these stats by working with members of the LGBTQ+ community who are, or have been, homeless. She provides wraparound support including housing advice and options, advocacy and more, with the ultimate goal of securing a safe and secure place to live for her customers.

As Concrete launches Phoenix House, a brand-new LGBTQ+ supported accommodation scheme and the next chapter for the Phoenix service, Courtney has shared more about her role and why she wanted to be involved with Concrete’s LGBTQ+ support service.

“When I saw the opportunity to be an LGBTQ+ Caseworker, I realised that I could become the help that I wished I’d had when I was going through similar struggles,” explained Courtney.

“I remember growing up and being bisexual and feeling different to everyone around me – it was really difficult. My lived experience helps me to see things from the customer’s perspective and have that understanding of them, that very few people have.”

Courtney supports a range of customers across the Phoenix service, including those facing struggles with gender identity and sexuality.

“At the moment I’m supporting a transgender woman who is currently transitioning. When she came to us at Concrete, she hadn’t come out to anybody yet. It was only after I met with her that she told me she felt she was in the wrong body.

“I’m helping her with that process, including legally changing her name and securing doctor’s appointments so that we can get her on the waiting list for hormone therapy. Thanks to the nature of Phoenix, we’ve been able to provide this combined support. Not only are we supporting her through this transition, but we’re also able to address her housing needs too.

“It isn’t always the big things I help them with though. I also support them to find gender affirming clothes, or access support groups so that they can share their experiences with others who have been through similar situations.

“The thing I enjoy the most about my role is meeting people from all walks of life, hearing their stories and what they have been through. It’s amazing to see how far they have come from where they started. It’s a huge honour to become part of their story and provide guidance as they grow into the person they have always wanted to be.”

Phoenix House

Over the last year, Phoenix has provided support to over 50 local people via a weekly telephone line and one-to-one and group support sessions. The next step is Phoenix House, a supported accommodation scheme for LGBTQ+ people who’ve faced homelessness.

“The launch of Phoenix House is very exciting. Having a dedicated space for our LGBTQ+ customers, where they can feel truly safe, without any judgement from the outside world, means everything to them. I’ll be based on-site, so they will have access to support whenever they need it too. 

“It’s an exciting time to be part of Phoenix. I think there is a huge gap when it comes to specialist LGBTQ+ homelessness support so I’d love to expand the service even more and have a bigger property, or even multiple ones across the city. 

“What many people don’t realise is that this is a community that have a different outlook on life compared to others – they don’t know who they can fully trust due to the discrimination that sadly still exists towards them. 

“I want our local LGBTQ+ community to know that there is dedicated housing and homelessness support out there that is tailored to them and their needs. They’re not alone – Phoenix is here and they don’t have to struggle in silence.” 

Click here to find out more about Phoenix.