The importance of a safe place to stay has been heightened during the pandemic and made us all think of the continuing pressure on those who are at risk of losing their home. We know that homelessness for women largely falls out of current data collection methods and is little understood. Where homelessness equates to rough sleeping, women’s homelessness can be missed, and many services do not perceive a need for a gendered provision or approach. The streets are a dangerous place.
Being confined to home has raised awareness of those women for whom home is not a place of safety. Women can end up sofa surfing with family or friends after relationship breakdown or forced into unsuitable living arrangements to avoid exposure to violence and intimidation on the street.
The pandemic has also highlighted the link between health and homelessness, yet access to healthcare for women experiencing homelessness where services are not offered separately to men, can discourage registration and treatment. And many women who are homeless are mothers, suffering trauma through the removal of children, a facet of their experience which is not often recognised by the agencies that hold the keys to state resources.
Crisis adopts a person-centred, strengths-based approach which ensures that they are ideally placed to work with women experiencing homelessness. They work with each woman on a one-to-one basis, enabling them to recognise and set meaningful goals, develop the skills they need to achieve these, and to improve aspects of their lives which are important to them.
They provide flexible support, with an emphasis on listening to and respecting everyone in terms of the routes to progression they want to take. This will ensure that each woman is in control of her own journey out of homelessness. They also work closely with key voluntary and statutory organisations, helping to raise awareness of women experiencing homelessness and improve services.
Lifelines International has supported crisis throughout the pandemic, helping women to access safe, secure housing through one-to-one coaching.