A teenager from Margate is desperate to return to the isle after being moved into emergency accommodation 60 miles away in Gravesend.
Alexi Price, 18, says she knows no-one in the town, has never been there before and is unable to access a GP for her medication.
Alexi has a lack of family support because she is a foster care leaver and as a transgender woman she is also dealing with her transition with little guidance.
After leaving foster care Alexi was in various supported living placements in Dover, Ramsgate and Canterbury but says there have been many challenges, some due to being transgender and others arising from friction within the foster and supported living system.
Finding herself homeless she turned to Thanet council for help and was initially placed in Margate’s Florence Court Hotel but Alexi says an incident of a person attempting, and then succeeding, to enter her room by forcing the door key out and then unlocking it, left her feeling too unsafe to remain. The incident was reported to Kent Police.
A Kent Police spokesperson said: “Kent Police was called at 10.45pm on Saturday 17 September following concerns raised by an 18-year-old woman at a hotel in Cliftonville. An officer later attended the hotel and spoke to the woman. She was given safety advice and no criminal offences were identified.”
Emergency accommodation was found but Thanet council says sites within the district are ‘limited’ meaning some people have to be housed out of the area.
Alexi said: “I don’t know anyone in Gravesend and do not know the area but there were no places in Thanet I could go. I haven’t got any family support and I only have a small circle of friends.
“Because I’ve been moved out the area the doctors are now refusing my meds and have taken me off the list.
“I now have no meds for my depression unless I call 111 as it is too hard to register to a GP, let alone book an appointment.
“I’ve ended up so lonely and feel so unsafe once again, I have got myself a dog to keep me company and to spend my life with, I’ve been told I am not allowed to keep him in the building but I am not going to get rid of Milo, he is my only family and in the past few days has made me feel more loved and appreciated and happier and safer than I’ve ever felt in my entire life.”
Alexi says there has been some support from Kent County Council and a meeting to discuss trying to find a placement in or near Thanet. However, her 18-plus worker has been on leave and she says other social care staff have told her it could “be several months” before new accommodation is found and have asked her to consider moving to Maidstone or Tunbridge Wells.
Alexi says she also has had to figure out her transition alone due to no communication following a referral to the Tavistock Clinic, which is UK’s only dedicated gender identity clinic for children and young people.
More confusion has followed after the news that Tavistock’s Gender Identity Development Service, is due to close in Spring next year and be replaced by regional centres.
Alexi said: “I started transitioning in December 2020 and have not had any help or heard anything back from Tavistock as that’s something social services said they would do for me.
“Everything I have done during my transition has been off my own back and with my own money. I’ve grown my hair out, changed my dress sense multiple times and also made it apparent to the public. I am in the process of training my voice myself.
“I have no knowledge of transgender or the LGBTQ+ community as I was brought up by my dad who was very against any of it.
“From a young age I always knew I wanted to be a girl and always used to say it to some but with my family I would try not to make it obvious, but they knew.
“I later had a foster dad who had best intentions at heart but would try and get me to change my decision and would stop me doing certain things and question my appearance. The rest of the family were quite lovely and wanted to support me and talk about it all and helped me get a job.”
Alexi says another placement was with a family who culturally could not accept LGBTQ+
She said: “I was told to cover my hair with towels so the daughter didn’t see and would also be told to shave if the slightest bit of stubble was on show, I felt very uncomfortable.
“Being in the area alone I felt inclined to go out every day and keep busy, whether that was sitting in Costa for hours, going on multiple sunbeds, getting beauty treatments done or simply sitting by the beach or going for long walks.
“I was using social media to find people in my area to meet up with and communicate and try and socialise which brought me in some positive and negative situations. I then started going out a lot during the week and on a Saturday and underage drinking and using illegal substances, some of which being influenced by negative people I had met. I put myself in a lot of dangerous situations.”
Alexi was moved to several supported living sites but eventually began staying with friends until going to the council for help.
Her current accommodation is a studio flat but she says there are some issues with the cleanliness of the block which had blood smeared on the walls when she arrived.
Alexi now wants to return to Thanet, where she had a job and a small group of friends, but does not know when or if this will be possible. She also works in online sales for a well-known brand but the most recent disruptions have limited her ability to do this.
“Placements within the district are limited”
A Thanet council spokesperson said: “We are not able to comment about the details of individual cases. In general however, if we accept an application for housing from a care leaver, we then have a duty of care to provide them with temporary accommodation. We make every effort to ensure that this is provided within Thanet. We also work with the care leaver and any support network to ensure that suitable accommodation is offered and that the individual receives appropriate support.
“The type, location and quantity of emergency accommodation that we can access varies day by day. Placements within the district are limited and options are more varied and numerous outside Thanet. Our aim is always to move households who have been placed outside of the district back into Thanet as soon as possible.
“Temporary accommodation is provided until the household is either successful in bidding for a social rented tenancy on our housing register, or finds an alternative private sector home.”
Thanet council receives around 1,000 homelessness applications each year. The council is landlord of 3034 properties but demand outstrips supply. The authority has 1,740 households on the housing register waiting for an affordable rented home. Of these 923 are individuals and 817 are families.
In June Thanet council said there were 181 households in temporary accommodation, with 96 housed outside Thanet.
Kent County Council says support is being offered and it is hoped that suitable accommodation will be found shortly.
A KCC spokesperson said: “We prefer not to comment in detail on individual cases. However, we can say that our 18-plus Care Leavers service works with young people to provide the most appropriate support for them.
“We hope that Alexi’s current accommodation needs will be resolved shortly. In the meantime, she is receiving regular support from her personal advisor to help meet her needs.”
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Thanet council Housing Team 01843 577277
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