The UK’s first LGBTIQ+ homeless shelter has lost its home and is in search of a new building.

The Outside Project, which started its shelter in 2017 out of 1960s Rock band Status Quo’s old tour bus, provides identity responsive accommodation and community spaces for London’s LGBTIQ+ community.

Alongside its homelessness shelter, the charity runs a domestic abuse refuge, an emergency hotel shelter and a community centre as well as professional and peer-led support services for queer homeless people.

The project was founded by all LGBTIQ+ people with lived experience of homelessness.

Jesse Ashman, who has worked with the charity since it was founded said: “They felt the need for an identity responsive service that is run by and for our community.

“The group of founders decided to fundraise and see if this was something that people would be interested in and were actually able to open a year earlier than planned - it raised £11.5k which was enough to buy the bus and it just went from there.”

From 2019 - 2021 the shelter was based out of the disused Clerkenwell Fire Station but due to the pandemic and sale of the former fire station, the shelter was moved into a Covid-19 hotel in May 2021.

The building the shelter planned to move to next fell through unexpectedly a few weeks ago due to delays and renovation costs - now leaving vulnerable people without vital services.

Homelessness disproportionately affects the LGBTIQ+ community and according to the 2014 ‘Still Out There' report carried out by Anglia Ruskin University, 25 per cent of homeless people in London at the time were LGBT.

This was found to be largely due to widespread issues that affect LGBTIQ+ people and have far-reaching consequences for the community’s overall health and wellbeing.

The report found that 40pc of participants experienced prejudice on a regular basis, with one-third reporting constant concerns over their physical safety, both at home and elsewhere.

The research also showed that poverty was prevalent with over a third of participants earning less than £15,000 annually – a figure significantly lower than the 2014 London Living Wage of £9.40 per hour.

Adding to the problem, many LGBTIQ+ people do not feel they receive an adequate level of support from their local authority.

Jesse said: “We found that our community was not seen as vulnerable.

“Within homelessness services there is something called priority need where the council will decide if you’re priority and if you’re not , you don't get very much support from them.

“So they would present to the council having had horrible traumatic experiences and wouldn't be classed as priority need because they wouldn't be classed as vulnerable.

“And these are people who would be coming from domestic servitude, domestic violence.

“We even had someone who presented having gone through conversion therapy and was asked by the council: 'Oh and did that help?'"

Unsurprisingly then, many LGBTIQ+ people are reluctant to reveal either their sexual orientation or gender identity to mainstream organisations for fear of the reaction they will receive.

The Outside Project is a life-saving service as the majority of its service users would not approach or be welcome in a mainstream service.

All its work is identity responsive and holistic meaning that it offers not just accommodation but a safe space for self-exploration in terms of identity and focuses on building community ties to sustain long term wellbeing.

Jesse said: “We have loads of people who come into the service not necessarily having disclosed their identity to any of their family and friends who after their stay with us are very proud of their identity - which also might be different from when they started with us.

“It wouldn't be enough for us to have accommodation when we could be doing prevention work and getting stronger as a community.”

The project urgently needs a new home to provide its crucial resources and can be contacted at