Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Nova Project, Reading

The Nova Project is a ten bed accommodation service specifically for women. The service was developed by St Mungo’s in collaboration with Reading Borough Council in 2020 in response to an identified need for a specialist service for women.

We aspire to achieve equally positive outcomes with our female clients, recognising that they experience homelessness differently from men, bearing the burden of gender-based harassment, abuse and violence. The project is first and foremost a safe space for women, providing a secure place to start the process of recovery from homelessness, and one day to move on. There is no fixed timeline for clients’ stay at the Nova Project, meaning individuals can stay as long as needed.

Gender-informed support

The service offers gender-informed, individualised and intensive support to our clients, many of whom have experienced severe traumas such as domestic violence. Clients in the Nova Project have often been in and out of other services, have long histories of sleeping rough, may have been sex working, and may have been unable to sustain a tenancy. This project has had proven success in supporting women to break these cycles; to date there has been only one eviction from the service.

A multi-agency approach

The project embraces a multi-agency approach to understand specific clients’ needs and how best to help individuals. There are also in-reach services to improve accessibility. The project works with other local service providers to provide specialist support to its residents, including health outreach, budgeting support, substance use services and tenancy sustainment. Where required, additional support can be provided by St Mungo’s women only Navigator and the innovative new Complex Couples Pathway, which offers women supported move on options with their partner, in line with client wishes and where appropriate. The service also organises activities to support wellbeing and life skills, including gardening and ‘Arty Afternoons’.

Lived experience

Recognising the value of lived experience, the Nova Project will soon benefit from peer support volunteers alongside its trained staff. This invaluable contribution will allow for clients to connect with and be supported by other women with similar life experiences and challenges, who have been able to recover and move on.

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