The Connection at St Martin’s welcomes the new minister for Rough Sleeping, Andrew Stephenson MP.
Today was an exciting day at The Connection HQ as Andrew Stephenson MP visited our centre to attend the launch of the first ever census of women’s rough sleeping taking place across London. I am thrilled to be a part of this a wonderful collaboration between The Connection, Solace Women’s Aid, St Mungo’s, Single Homelessness Project, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities,the Greater London Authority and London Councils.
The census has come at a critical time: we know women are under-represented in data on homelessness and rough sleeping, and that women tend to avoid mainstream homelessness services which are usually dominated by men. Women are at particular risk when sleeping rough, facing near universal experiences of violence and abuse. To keep themselves safe, women make sure they’re less visible to those who could harm them. They also, however, go unseen by services and therefore don’t appear in traditional street counts – a primary source of data on rough sleeping.
One of the key recommendations in the strategy is to get more and better data, which the women’s census will help us to do. I’m incredibly grateful that agencies and local authorities across London are collecting data all week to provide us with as complete a set of information as possible. This includes a wide range of support services across London and women identified during daytime outreach.
We were pleased to see that the government’s new strategy to tackle rough sleeping recognises the particular experiences of women and the need for ‘tailored, specific interventions’ to meet their needs.
Once we have completed the census and analysed the data, we will have a much better understanding of what services are needed for women experiencing homelessness, and use this to ensure that the right services are in place to meet their needs.
Thank you very much to the Minister for his time this morning, and we look forward to sharing the results with him and with everyone who wants to end the trauma and damage that rough sleeping causes for people every day.
-Pam Orchard, Chief Executive