February marks LGBTQ+ History Month, an opportunity to raise awareness of the crisis within LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, and to celebrate the work that both charities and property professionals are doing to combat this.
Charities such as akt and Stonewall Housing are working tirelessly at the coal face of the issue, supporting thousands of young people in the UK every year. However, it requires a collective effort to make real and lasting change.
This is where the property industry group, Freehold, comes in. With the backing of Stonewall, Freehold connects and supports LGBTQ+ people from across the real estate sector, offering members the opportunity to attend networking events, join a mentoring scheme, attend wider LGBTQ+ community events, and participate in events to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ best practice and inclusive behaviour.
We caught up with Kelly Canterford, Co-Chair of Freehold and Director at Tigrou Consulting, to learn more about the impact of Freehold and how they support LandAid’s mission to end youth homelessness.
The aim of Freehold is to address the equality gap within the industry. What does Freehold do to try and address this gap?
One aspect of Freehold which cannot be underestimated is the impact of our members being “role models” for the industry. In 2011 when Freehold first came together, I knew I wasn’t alone, but now with over 1,000 members of Freehold, I am in great company and the fear of being out in real estate is much reduced.
Freehold is part of LandAid’s wider Networks Against Homelessness community. What do you think Freehold has to offer, that makes it well placed to generate support for our mission?
Sadly, youth homelessness disproportionately impacts our community. Many of us growing up were affected by homophobia either at home or saw it in our friends’ families, and most of us know someone who was kicked out of home or was threatened with homelessness because of their sexuality or gender identity. You may have thought this would reduce as society becomes more inclusive, but sadly, as coming out becomes more common, it has become a larger problem, a fact which is not lost on any of us.
Freehold members are a charitable bunch. Nearly all of our events have a fundraising element, and we were proud to be able to raise £32,000 in support of LandAid for our 10th anniversary party.
You recently collected a LandAid Award on behalf of Freehold. What did it mean to you, and to Freehold, to be recognized in this way?
It was a great honour to receive this award. When Freehold first started, it was rare to find an out person in our industry. We never could have dreamed that in a decade we would be an accepted part of the real estate community and that we would be in a position to give back through the industry’s charity in this way.
What message do you have for anyone outside of the LGBTQ+ community, for what they can do, however big or small, to help address the inequality which young LGBTQ+ people experiencing homelessness face?
For me this is about simple humanity and human kindness. No one should be judged on who they are let alone on who they love. While LandAid works tirelessly to end youth homelessness, wouldn’t it be great if we could stop young LGBTQ+ people being ejected from their homes or leaving because they fear for their lives? We can all spread kindness and call out hate. In the meantime, we can support LandAid in their ambition to end youth homelessness.