Brand new e-mentoring service for LGBT young people to launch early 2017

During 2016, the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation supported the Albert Kennedy Trust in developing its new e-mentoring service, inter-AKT.

The Albert Kennedy Trust provides safe homes, mentoring, training and support to young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The majority of LGBT people suffer bullying in school and feel unsafe due to sexual orientation. Nearly half of trans people under 26 have attempted suicide. A quarter of LGBT people adapt their behaviour to hide their sexual orientation to avoid being a victim of hate crime. Over a half of young LGBT people harm themselves and LGBT people over all ages are seven times more likely to take drugs.

inter-AKT is all about giving young people the support, advice and resources they need in order to explore their situations, deal with any challenges that arise, build skills and lead independent lives. Whether it’s through chat, messaging, video or voice, young people will be able to connect with volunteer mentors, wherever they are, to talk through issues important to them, such as coming out, preventing homelessness, accessing services or making the most of talents and opportunities. A range of learning opportunities and peer and expert generated content will be available so that young people can build their skills and independence.

AKT will be working hard to engage and connect with people outside of its key service areas in London, Manchester and Newcastle, in particular to those in rural areas who may have more challenges accessing LGBT services.

The inter-AKT platform is now in its testing phase with the anticipation of a launch early 2017. If you are a young person aged 16-25 and want to be notified when inter-AKT becomes available or are interested in becoming a mentor, please get in touch with tomj@akt.org.uk.

Below is a brief example of the essential work that AKT does, incorporating its pilot of inter-AKT.

Peter (not his real name) came to AKT because he was sleeping rough on the streets of London. He had to leave his home because his parents disapproved of his sexual orientation. He told AKT he was experiencing challenges relating to his mental health, had trouble finding work and struggled with dyslexia.

AKT worked with Peter to secure immediate accommodation and then a more secure and longer term form of supported housing. AKT also provided Peter mentoring support via inter-AKT around the issues of Peter’s housing situation, family mediation and finding employment. Peter and the mentor worked together to develop a goal focussed on searching for employment and Peter agreed that his first step would be to identify jobs of interest to him, so that they could review his options and focus on what’s needed to get jobs like these. At the end of this session, Peter reported that he felt more positive about his situation as a result of his e-mentoring session and said that the main benefit of the session for him was greater confidence when looking for work. Peter also reported that he left the session with greater motivation to be successful. Peter and his e-mentor will continue working together now that the rest of his support from AKT has tapered off. Peter has been very enthusiastic about inter-AKT and is recommending it to other young people.

With your help, we can support more projects like this one. Please consider a regular or one-off donation http://www.standupfoundation-uk.org/you-can-help.

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