Frances Arns, Rainbow Youth

Rainbow Youth Receive Pot of Gold

by H Sthompson, hensonmistypooh@gmail.com, www.honeysthompson.wordpress.com

Homelessness is hard, but if you are queer, gender diverse or somewhere on the sexual spectrum, homelessness can be even harder.

LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people face specific challenges avoiding homelessness, as well as trying to overcome homelessness. LGBT people face social stigma, discrimination, and sometimes rejection by their family.

In an attempt to address many of the housing issues faced by young queer people, Auckland Council has provided Rainbow Youth with funding for a Peer Support Worker to specifically help house LGBT homeless and at risk youth. 

Frances Arns, Executive Director, Rainbow Youth, says homelessness is not just about sleeping rough. Homelessness can be crashing on a mates couch, living in inappropriate or unsafe environments or even at home without appropriate resources, support or respect. 

“Rainbow Youth provides information, advise, advocacy and support to queer, intersex, trans’ and gender diverse young people, says Frances. Support can be one on one peer support or group activities where people meet like minded people. The Abbey Street (of Gundry Street, Of K’ Road) office offers a safe place to hang out on comfortable couches, read rainbow books or watch movies.”

Rainbow Youth also offer free gender affirming clothing, coffee and cups of compassion and empathy. 

Rainbow Youth is for young people run by young people. All Board Members are less than 28-years old. 

“We are here to help, says Frances. If you need help for something regarding gender please come and see us.”

Analeise Nicholas is a former homeless transgender woman who endured 18 months on the street. She is now in a Kianga Ora (Housing New Zealand) home.

Analeise thinks the Rainbow Youth support person is great news for homeless youth. 

“I’m an adult and I deal with my situation differently, says Analeise. Young people will need that person. Trans’ people have different issues. Being homeless is not the best situation to be in when you are taking hormones for example.”

Ilana James, Housing and Outreach Manager, Auckland City Mission says that the more that we can support the peer support workforce and provide targeted help to the homeless community is a good thing. 

“Young people are overrepresented among homeless and at risk people and requires a special approach. It will be interesting to see how it is rolled out We are always interested in inter agency partnerships around that. We are always looking at collaboration and I’m interested to see how it is implemented,” says Ilana. 

The new support worker will be announced no later than the end of March. 

For more information about Rainbow Youth visit www.ry.org.nz or email info@ry.org.nz