Homelessness services for women

Women’s homelessness is a “sad chronicle of missed opportunities” to get the right help to women at the right time, says a new report report published today by St Mungo’s.

More than 10,000 women were in homelessness services in the UK last year, and many more are ‘hidden homeless’.

Evidence from St Mungo’s Rebuilding Shattered Lives report shows homeless women, among the most traumatised and marginalised people in society, are being failed at a local and national level.

Women who are homeless face exceptionally complicated and connected problems which make it challenging for them to move on with their lives.

The report highlights problems including separation from children, mental and physical ill health, prison sentences, drug and alcohol use and involvement in prostitution. These problems often stem from trauma following violence and abuse.

The Rebuilding Shattered Lives report brings together more than 200 contributions from charities, academics and homeless women themselves. It sets out the issues, good practice and ten recommendations.

Charles Fraser, St Mungo’s Chief Executive, said: “There is much good practice out there, but as this report shows, we also need new approaches. We have to get this right, work with partners and act now.

“This report evidences a sad chronicle of missed opportunities where women fail to get the help they need. National leadership is key.”

The report raises two particular concerns:

    Homeless and other services are predominantly developed by, and for men, because they make up the majority of clients. As a result they are often designed with men in mind and can fail to support women effectively.

    With homelessness rising, support services being cut and restrictions on benefits are likely to impact women in particular – almost one million more women claim housing benefit than men – the report raises fears of a ‘timebomb’ of women’s homelessness.

The Rebuilding Shattered Lives report is being launched at an event in Westminster on Monday 3 March hosted by Tracey Crouch MP and Chuka Umunna MP. Guest speakers will include Norman Baker MP, Minister of State for Crime Prevention, St Mungo’s staff and a current client.