The service has opened up as part of Manchester’s A Bed Every Night Scheme.

Riverside Housing in Manchester has opened up a new short-term accommodation service for homeless people who identify as LGBTQ+.

The service has opened up six flats, with the aim of providing a safe space to help LGBTQ people escape discrimination.

Explaining the purpose of the set of flats, Eleanor Watts, an area manager for Riverside Housing, said: “We are delighted to be opening this new homelessness service for people in the LGBTQ+ community so they can feel safe and secure and without fear of discrimination, while giving them the freedom to be who they are.

“Many people identifying as LGBTQ+ can end up homeless due to a variety of reasons such as losing their job or a family breakdown after coming out so they have little or no support from their relatives.”

She added: “It can also be difficult for LGBTQ+ people to open up to others especially those in authority so this supported service will help break down these barriers. Our support workers focus on supporting the person’s needs to help them move on in life and live independently in their own home.”

One of the first people to use the service is Elaine, 61, and speaking to Grenada Reports, she said: “You’ve got a family, you’ve got a place, you’ve got a belonging, you’ve got an address.

“I know it’s a stepping stone to other things, but it’s like an injection, a shot in the arm, it’s like winning the lottery.”

The move was also praised by Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, who said: “I am so proud to see A Bed Every Night evolve to respond to the range of needs of people sleeping rough in Greater Manchester.

“It is vital that we provide accommodation and support that best enables people to get off the streets.

“This dedicated service for LGBTQ+ people is another big step towards making sure everyone receives the help, the safety, and the security that can really make a difference to their lives.”

Figures from the Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ homeless people, estimate that nearly a quarter of youth homeless population identify as LGBTQ+. Studies have found that most of these have been rendered homeless because of unsupportive families or abuse within the house.

Studies also found that outcomes of LGBTQ+ people going homeless included increased risks of sexual exploitation, as well as developing mental health issues or an alcohol addiction.

Earlier this year, Stonewall Housing launched a new campaign to amplify the voices affected by LGBTQ+ homelessness. The campaign was launched after this year’s coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of Pride events across the world, which the charity depends on for making connections to help with funding.

Established in 1983, the charity have provided shelter for tens of thousands of queer people. Every day, they support 40 young LGBTQ+ people in their housing and deliver a free housing advice helpline to LGBTQ+ people of all ages.

They also assist with advice surgeries for LGTBQ+ people, deliver specialist and awareness training for social housing staff and tenants, as well as consultation and information to other agencies about issues with LGBTQ+ housing.