Homelessness charity, St Mungo’s welcomes the UK Government’s new Women’s Health Strategy announced last week, which recognises that women with experience of homelessness ‘face additional barriers to accessing healthcare, and have poorer health outcomes compared with women in general’. (Wednesday 20 July 2022).

The Government’s ambition is that, within the next 10 years, the Women’s Health Strategy for England will have boosted health outcomes for all women and girls, and radically improved the way in which the health and care system engages and listens to them.

In June 2021, St Mungo’s, along with other charities in the sector issued a joint submission that called for a women’s health strategy which recognises the specific needs of women experiencing homelessness and the disparity they face achieving optimal health outcomes.

The joint submission highlighted that the average age of death for women sleeping rough or living in emergency accommodation is just 43 years old – nearly 40 years younger than women in the general population.*

St Mungo’s also recommended that the Government directly work with women with lived experience of homelessness and rough sleeping, and are pleased to see that the Women’s Health Ambassador and deputy Women’s Health Ambassador will be taking this recommendation forward.

The new Women’s Health Strategy states that:

‘We are committed to ensuring that under-represented groups and groups that experience health disparities are listened to in the implementation of this strategy.’

Jill Thursby, the Women and Domestic Abuse Matrix Lead at St Mungo’s, said:

‘We are delighted to see that some of our recommendations have been taken on board and published in the new Women’s Health Strategy. It is great to see the Strategy lays out ambitions to tackle disparities in access to services, experience of services and outcomes, especially for women in inclusion health groups such as those experiencing homelessness.

‘We look forward to seeing further details around how the Government will deliver on the ambitions of this strategy.

We hope that the delivery will include our key recommendation of funding for the expansion of women-only homelessness services, and our latest recommendation that the new integrated care systems have a focus on improving the health outcomes for people with experience of homelessness’.

The Kerslake Commission on Homelessness and Rough Sleeping, which St Mungo’s is the secretariat for, highlighted the importance of recognising the different and specific needs of women who are homeless.

*Statistic from the Office for National Statistics, 2019