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Saturday 15 November 2014

Albert Kennedy Trust/Outpost - Celebration Evening at The Vermont Hotel November 2014

Date: Thursday 13th November 2013.    
Venue: The Vermont Hotel, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.


PROUD to be a Patron of AKT/Outpost

As Patron I was invited to present an award at a fabulous event to celebrate '25 years of the Albert Kennedy Trust'  and the hard work of our young people, volunteers, donors, supporters, and staff.

This year AKT celebrates its 25thanniversary. Since 1989 AKT has supported lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) young people aged 25 and under who are homeless or living in a hostile environment.

Cath Hall, a foster carer based in Manchester, was already aware of the rejection and ejection of young LGBT people from their family homes and was spurred to action following the tragic death of Albert Kennedy on Sunday 30th April 1989.

Albert was 16 years when he tragically fell to his death from a multi-story car park in what is widely regarded as a homophobic hate crime. Albert was very much loved by his family, but whilst spending some time in a children’s home he experienced rejection and homophobia from other residents, and sought solace in Manchester’s gay village. Albert’s mum, Mary, is a very proud supporter of AKT’s work.

Cath decided to set up a trust in Albert’s name to provide safe homes for LGBT young people who had faced rejection from their families and from society at large. Initially providing safe spaces with volunteer carers in Manchester, the Trust now works in three cities (London, Manchester and Newcastle) providing mentoring, advocacy and training as well as safe homes with carers and within our own Purple Door project.

On the Trust reaching its 25th Anniversary Cath said: “I had a vision, a passionate vision, that no young LGBT young person should live in fear at home. Like a baton, that vision had to be passed on.

“Over 25 years passionate and dedicated LGBT men and women have taken up the baton to ensure that thousands of young people have been touched by that dream and could live in safety, or with guidance, into adulthood."

The event was due to start at 7pm with a buffet, followed by the Alberts Award Ceremony at 8pm. The young people decided to create a colourful carnival experience, so the theme of the evening was Circus/Fairground with hook the duck and various side stalls. As many of know I love to get dressed up I wore quite an eye-catching Ringmistress outfit. 

Amy Addison and Patron Ellen Dean arriving at the event

Of course, when I'm OUT and About there is always a little detour that isn't planned, but usually ends up being fun. Tonight was no exception.

I set off in plenty of time knowing there was roadworks along a great length of the A1. I was to meet my niece, Amy Addison, at our cousins house in Chester-Le-Street. Amy would leave her car there and travel to and from The Vermont Hotel with me. However, I missed the turn off to Chester-Le-Street and ended up almost in Washington. After a frantic phone call we arranged to meet at Birtley Services (yes, the one mentioned in Beautiful Strangers, but no sign of Dr. Hyacinth Dickinson). 
I arrived with Amy's words 'You plonker!' ringing in my ears! We met. A new arrangement was needed: I would follow Amy into Newcastle because she has Sat Nav. Yay! My cousin Catherine had advised us to travel over the Tyne Bridge, so off we went. But, Amy didn't turn off at the junction we were supposed to, so we ended up going over the Redheugh Bridge instead. To cap it all, some roads were closed so we ended up at St James Park. 
Of course, I was panicking. But, thanks to Amy's trusty Sat Nav we were soon heading towards The Vermont Hotel. We arrived safely and luckily we didn't miss anything even though we were a tad late. Thinking back we probably looked like a cross between Thelma and Louise and a scene from the film The Italian Job. 

It was great to catch up with all of the wonderful people who are connected with the Albert Kennedy Trust. I had a lovely chat with Lady Margaret Shipley, wife of Lord John Shipley, about social media, in particular Twitter and Facebook.

Lord John and Lady Margaret Shipley

MC for the event was Jonathan Miles Radio Presenter at BBC Newcastle who did a magnificent job. 

Jonathan Miles

Tim Sigsworth Chief Executive and Wendy Hodgson Deputy Chief Executive of The Albert Kennedy Trust explained what the charity offers, and how it supports Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans homeless people (aged 16-25) in crisis and thanked their amazing sponsors, partners, staff and volunteers for their hard work and dedication.  It's heartwarming to know how some of the young people the charity has helped keep in touch and sometimes come back as volunteers. To me that speaks volumes.

Wendy Hodgson and Tim Sigsworth

I was proud to present AKT's Community Partner Award in Newcastle to Helen Hindhaugh of Teenage Kicks 

A proud Patron making my speech

Presenting the Community Partner Award to Helen Hindhaugh of Teenage Kicks

Well done to Wendy and the AKT/Outpost team for putting on such a grand event. And, I love the way everyone integrates within AKT, even though it's a charity for LGBT a lot of the staff and volunteers are not LGBT. The whole evening was absolutely fabulous.

Ellen Dean and Wendy Hodgson
AKT Trustee Jim McElderry

Steph Edusei CEO Healthwatch, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Terry Stacy MBE AKT Chairman with Ellen Dean and Amy Addison
AKT Ambassador Steven Moore BBC TV Antiques Roadshow
with Jonathan Miles




All fab photographs copyright Steve Brock Newcastle-upon-Tyne