Why do women become homeless? How does their experience differ to men?
For both men and women homelessness is often caused by a combination of events. But, there are some triggers which particularly affect women including fleeing from a violent partner, sexual abuse and growing up in care.
Homeless women are even more vulnerable than men, often suffering from increased mental health issues as well as drug or alcohol dependencies.
When in crisis, women may be more likely to turn to friends or family for support. This means they’re hidden homeless and it is difficult to accurately measure how many women need help.
Hidden homelessness also includes women working in brothels, and as prostitutes. Sometimes these decisions are made to avoid rough sleeping. These dangerous circumstances trap vulnerable women and prevent them from accessing essential support.
“I was concerned about my safety, mostly about being raped. The cold is also a great issue” Kay
Did you know? Only 20% of the clients we see at the centre are women and of those approximately 12% are sleeping rough in London.
Sleeping rough for women is incredibly dangerous and they are far more likely to be physically or verbally attacked and sexually assaulted. To protect themselves they may sleep in hidden places, or disguise themselves, making it more difficult for street teams to find them.
HOW WE HELP
Street Outreach teams will go on to the streets twice a day looking for women who are rough sleeping while responding to referrals from members of the public and businesses. They check hidden spots including alleyways, under piles of cardboard and parks.
Female keyworkers can work specifically with vulnerable women who may be less likely to engage with men.
Every week a women’s support group is held at the centre offering advice and care on a range of emotional and practical issues including housing, health, and education. It’s also a chance for women to meet people in a similar situation and offer each other support.