Homelessness charity St Mungo’s is creating more women-only shelter spaces and improving its services for female domestic abuse victims.
On International Women’s Day, the charity is launching its three-year women’s strategy – which will see staff work to improve their own services as well as campaigning to influence policy and protect funding for specialist services, such as that which support women recovering from sexual violence.
The latest figures from St Mungo’s show that 642 women sleep rough on any one night in England.
The Rebuilding Shattered Lives report, published five years ago, showed there was a lack of research and understanding of contributing factors to women’s homelessness, resulting in lacklustre support for vulnerable women. It concluded that services are often designed for men exclusively.
Catherine Glew, women’s strategy manager at St Mungo’s, said: “With this new strategy, we aim to create an environment of physical and psychological safety for our female clients, who face disproportionate risk of harm from people they love and trust as well as the dangers of homelessness.
“We will continue to speak out about the link between gender, violence and homelessness, to make sure women are not forgotten or left behind by government policy.”
Homeless women in the UK have experienced physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse at a high rate – it can be both a cause and a consequence of homelessness. Nearly half of St Mungo’s women residents are survivors of domestic abuse from a partner or family member.
Many homeless women may be missed by official counts too, because of the number forced to seek shelter with abusive partners or staying with friends and family temporarily.
Glew added: “Our clients cannot wait for government to make women’s homelessness a priority. We choose to prioritise women’s safety.”