Teesside University researchers who examined the experiences of LGBTQ+ care leavers are about to share their insight at a special event.
Produced and delivered by LGBTQ+ care experienced people, the team will share their findings and offer advice and support to anyone interested in support for LGBTQ+ care leavers, during an online Leaving Care With Pride knowledge exchange event.
The research team carried out an exploratory study into the experiences of LGBTQ+ care leavers and although pockets of good practice were recognised, they found a lack of specific policy and training in care leaving services.
LGBTQ+ care leavers who spoke to the Teesside University research team say they faced discrimination and inadequate support to meet their needs when they left care.
The team’s research findings, which highlight challenges in current support provision and make suggestions for practice improvement, will be outlined at the Leaving Pride With Care event, which will take place online from 1.00pm to 2.30pm on Thursday 27 April. Book a place HERE.
Dr Claire Brown, senior lecturer in social work in the University’s School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, who led the research, said: “Young people we spoke to felt ignored, unwanted and invalidated, and reported examples of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. This lack of support impacts upon young people’s housing, finance, education, emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health.
“The need for training to equip professionals with the awareness and tools they require to support LGBTQ+ people must be developed for professionals supporting those leaving care.”
The team’s findings highlight a need for new approaches to nurture positive relationships between LGBTQ+ young people and those who care for them, as an essential part of preparation and support when leaving care. Interview data from the study suggested that LGBTQ+ young adults can benefit from continued support as they move towards independence.
Jack Smith, who is part of the research team and drew from his own experiences as a care leaver, said: “Tackling stigma and discrimination is likely to form a core aspect of support for LGBTQ+ people leaving care.
“A positive relationship with a key figure such as a foster carer, social worker or support worker could enable more effective understanding of LGBTQ+ people’s specific needs in early adulthood, as well as provide emotional and psychological support that is essential to good mental health.”
The study also highlighted gaps in effective mental health support for LGBTQ+ people leaving care.
Jack added: “Greater resource needs to be directed towards the support of LGBTQ+ care leavers, with a particular focus on helping them to find safe, inclusive housing, support with mental health and to access gender affirmative services.”
The research team found that those with intersecting experiences of mental illness, disability or being from a minority ethnic background reported a pronounced difficulty.
Jack said: “Focusing on only one identity category can fail to account for the ways in which one identity category is mutually shaped by another.”
The research team conclude that further examination of the experiences of LGBTQ+ care leavers is needed to map differences in national provision to obtain a fuller picture of the successes and gaps in policy and service provision.