Domestic Abuse Navigators Hackney

    Domestic Abuse Navigators, South London and Hackney

    The Domestic Abuse Navigators are co-located within St Mungo’s ‘women’s safe’ accommodation across South London and Hackney.

    This service supports women who have historic or current experience of domestic abuse and are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. At least two thirds of the clients accessing this service experience severe and multiple disadvantage.

    Building trust and relationships

    Domestic abuse survivors experiencing multiple disadvantage often have to manage their own safety whilst navigating complex systems, encountering gaps between their needs and service offers. This service bridges this gap by providing personalised, continuous support to survivors as they move through accommodation pathways. Each Navigator is a single point of contact for their clients and the services working with their clients. They work to gradually build meaningful, trusting relationships with their clients, providing support around domestic abuse and other matters that may be barriers to their recovery.

    Immediate safety

    After an incident or disclosure of domestic abuse, the Navigator will support clients with a primary focus on immediate safety. They review risk to the client and manage referrals of high risk clients to the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) where appropriate. The Navigators support referrals to specialist agencies, and create plans with the client to address support needs and decrease risk of re-victimisation.

    Engaging with support

    The Navigators connect to and coordinate with multiple services that are involved in the client’s support. This means working with local agencies such as substance misuse services, probation officers, psychologists, and health services. They can share information between services to find the best way to support the client and keep them engaged in services.

    Person-centred planning

    Clients can experience high levels of anxiety when moving between accommodation services, because they might need to start fresh with assessments, building relationships with new lead workers and getting to know a new area. Transitions between services are also a time of increased risk. The Navigators co-produce person centred move-on plans, considering each individual’s barriers and strengths. They ensure clients maintain their support network as they move and can support them while they adapt to their new circumstances.

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    Nova Project Reading

    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.

    Women’s Safe Space Camden

    Women's Safe Space, Camden

    Safe Space is an approach co-developed by St Mungo’s and the London Borough of Camden to explore and implement new ways of working with women experiencing homelessness and multiple disadvantage.

    This approach can be adopted by any team (mixed gendered or single sex services) working with women with multiple disadvantage. It can also benefit male clients and support staff. Safe Space is a culture of understanding how trauma, gender and the effects of multiple disadvantage impact our clients’ experience, while acknowledging sexism and inequality within wider society.

    Understanding trauma

    We do this through the whole team being trained on gender and trauma, PIE, trauma informed care and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Moving away from an outcomes based approach, instead focusing on offering time and space for clients to stabilise and build trust in services.


    Safe Space recognised that if a client doesn’t trust our service she is unlikely to engage with the service offer. Relationships with clients are therefore at the centre of everything the team do. Lead workers offer meetings in a relaxed and informal way.

    Choice and control

    Offering choice to our clients, we are able to build trust and show ourselves to be non-paternalistic in our care. As a service provider, we can often mimic ‘perpetrator like’ behaviours, e.g. by asking about their drug use. This may feel harassing or invasive to our clients who have experienced trauma. Allowing clients to choose certain options, building choice into many aspects of service, like lead worker, meal planning and meeting locations.

    What's the impact?

    As part of the Safe Space service, we worked with the London Borough of Camden to produce a specific eLearning for all staff working in Camden’s Adult Pathway. This was based on research into the experiences of women in the homelessness pathway in the borough.

    The Women’s Safe Space has been key in lifting the voices of women accessing services in Camden and helping to share our support. Our service has developed and changed with the understanding of women’s experiences – what we have learned, and continue to learn, will inform how services are developed and delivered in future.