Women (without dependents) made up 26% of people who accessed homelessness services in 2013, which in real numbers was around 10,000 people. At the sharpest end of homelessness, 786 women were recorded sleeping rough in London last year.
There are no figures on the number of women sleeping rough nationally but the overall number of people recorded sleeping rough has risen by 37% since 2010. The true number is likely to be much higher.
Women may be sleeping on a friend’s sofa or, worse; trapped in abusive relationships because they have nowhere to go but do not want to become homeless (half of homelessness charity St Mungo Broadway’s female clients have experienced domestic violence).
Homeless women have many complicated, interrelated problems contributing to their homelessness, which are often rooted in trauma due to violence and abuse in childhood and then adulthood.
A further risk is that if a vulnerable woman flees domestic abuse and ends up in a mixed hostel where another incident of abuse takes place, this counteracts any positive progress made in their recovery.
CRASH is currently working with a number of charities across the country which are creating further bed spaces and targeted services specifically for women. Including Kairos Community Trust, a charity dedicated to helping homeless men and women with drug and alcohol problems through detox and rehab programmes and a network of 28 supported move-on houses. All of their services are delivered by experienced teams of qualified therapists and support workers eleven of whom have themselves been through Kairos’ rehabilitation services.
This year, for the first time in Kairos’ history, two of these support workers are women. A great cause for celebration and one that is highlighted in their Annual Report.