Ending homelessness, rebuilding lives

Shining a light on women's homelessness

This month, we’ve launched Visible Women. A new campaign which aims shine a light on women’s homelessness, and help women access the support they need.

Kate, Women's Recovery Coordinator

“I lead Safe Space – a project that looks at new ways to help some of the most vulnerable women in our services. Specifically, women experiencing multiple disadvantage including sexual exploitation, violence and abuse.”

“We want to build trust, and remove barriers to accessing talking therapy. By bringing specialised support directly to them.”

"We’ve found that these women have a wide range of support needs, but they do share two key things. An experience of trauma and a lack of trust in services."

“Almost all of the women we’re working with would otherwise struggle to access this kind of help. Because of the complex trauma they have experienced, attending appointments and structured sessions is a barrier.

“Many of the women we work with are drug and alcohol dependent and this too can exclude them from traditional services.”

Maria, Psychotherapist

“The service is unique because it draws on all the knowledge we’ve gained through the Safe Space project, and there are no formal referrals or assessments.

“I’ll start by going to a hostel and introducing myself. I let the women know that I’ll be there on certain days and times. If they’re interested, they can choose whether they want to do drop-ins, or have a set appointment. Flexibility is really important.

“If someone doesn’t feel comfortable talking at the hostel, we’ll go out. It’s all about giving back choice and control. They can take their time to get to know me before digging deeper into things.”

"Psychotherapy can look very different for everyone, it’s very client led. Most clients will tell me what their goals are. It might be moving out, or having their own place. Then we’ll start working on goals that are closer, or thinking about what actions they need to take to get there."

“Another big part of what we do is networking with other services and empowering women to advocate for themselves. To ask for what they need.

“We are often present during meetings with other services or staff, and the client will speak for themselves.”

"When we first started the project, we thought that we would have to really work hard to get women to get involved. But the appetite for this is massive. We’ve got lots of ambitious ideas for the future and we want to reach as many women as possible."

Meet Sophia

“I used to sleep behind the police station in Hounslow to keep safe. During the day, I sat on the tube, riding back and forth from Cockfosters to Heathrow.

“As a woman, you get a lot of people offering you money for sexual favours. Some men out there, they’ll see a vulnerable woman and use that to their advantage. I’ve seen it happen to people and it’s not nice.”

"But St Mungo’s supported me. They got me some clothes, they got me some food and they said ‘you’re safe now."

Read Sophia’s full story here. Find out more about women’s homelessness on our Visible Women page.

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