To mark International Women’s Day (Wednesday 8 March) leading homelessness charity St Mungo’s is highlighting the reality of homelessness for women.
The charity has created a range of content which it will share on social media which illustrate some of the ways women adapt to being homeless and how it can lead to them being ‘hidden’ from official statistics. The posts feature the real-life experiences of some of the charity’s female clients.
According to the most recent figures only 15% of people rough sleeping across England on a typical night in 2022 were women, but we know many are hidden from the statistics.
Women’s homelessness often occurs after prolonged experiences of trauma, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse by those closest to them. Violence and abuse are both a cause and consequence of women’s homelessness, with women experiencing further abuse, exploitation and violence while homeless.
Jill Thursby, Women and Domestic Abuse Lead, St Mungo’s, said: “People often think of homelessness as a men’s issue, but we have found women also experience homelessness and face the additional burden of gender-based violence and abuse when on the streets.
“We know many women are ‘hidden homeless’ as it’s dangerous to be visible so they may seek shelter somewhere, squat or sofa surf with friends or family and therefore are missing from the official statistics.
“That is why we wanted to draw attention to this and highlight the reality for many women experiencing homelessness and International Women’s Day was the ideal time. Hopefully our ‘Invisible Women’ campaign with help inform people and challenge some stereotypes about this important issue.
“At St Mungo’s our teams are dedicated to advocating for the unique needs of women experiencing homelessness with local and national government, to improving services and working with our partners to make sure women get the support they need.”
At the charity:
- Women make up 24% of St Mungo’s clients in housing related support services
- Almost half of the female clients have experienced domestic violence.
- 19% had experienced abuse as a child, compared with 5% and 8% of men.
Sophia, St Mungo’s client, said about her times on the streets: “There was a couple of situations I put myself into, dangerous situations. Sleeping in the park sometimes. But in the park at night-time there was no lights so it’d be absolutely pitch black. So I’d be absolutely scared because you can’t see nothing. And I could hear a few noises but other than that, just horrible.
“Now I’m feeling great. Because my mood’s uplifted. St Mungo’s supported me. That’s what they do they keep people safe.”
St Mungo’s has supported more than 1,100 women with accommodation from October to December last year.
St Mungo’s services work with women at all stages of homelessness, from women in prison at risk of losing their tenancy, to women sleeping rough, living in hostels and moving into independence. Almost one third (31%) of St Mungo’s supported housing residents are women, the charity runs women-only accommodation projects in London and Bristol.
Follow @StMungo’s on Twitter to learn more about ‘Visible Women’.