World Homeless Day 2021
Today, Sunday 10th October, is World Homeless Day 2021. The purpose of World Homeless day according to the organisers is to “draw attention to people who experience homelessness needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness, while taking advantage of the stage an ‘international day’ provides”.
Female homelessness in the UK
Female homelessness in the UK is perhaps not as visible as male homelessness, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
Many women are made – or risk becoming – homeless due to domestic abuse. In fact, according to SafeLives, nearly a third of homeless women state that domestic abuse contributed towards their homelessness. This statistic comes up again in a report commissioned by the homeless charity St Mungo’s, named ‘Women and Rough Sleeping’.
As St Mungo’s also emphasise, women who are homeless not only are already potentially fleeing from abuse, but they also have to take extra steps protect themselves from abuse when sleeping rough. They state that some women who participated in the report research “told the researchers the steps they took to conceal themselves, such as sleeping away from busy town centres or disguising their gender.” This just goes to show how female homelessness and domestic abuse are not only linked to each other, but also both underpinned by the way society views and treats women.
Supporting women facing becoming homeless due to domestic abuse
We know from our work with women experiencing abuse that one of the barriers to leaving can be having no place to flee to; this is especially the case when these women have children to take with them.
Here at Belfast and Lisburn Women’s Aid, we receive funding from the Supporting People Programme of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive because we offer housing and are considered a homelessness prevention service for women and children living with domestic abuse. As part of our support, we have three refuges across Belfast and Lisburn which can act as emergency accommodation for women, especially those who might face becoming homeless due to the domestic abuse they suffer at the hands of their partner.
To help prevent women becoming homeless due to domestic abuse, and to help women fleeing domestic abuse, we offer the following support to women in refuge and who live in the community:
- Help developing budgeting and domestic life skills
- Help claiming welfare benefits
- Help finding employment training
- Help finding other accommodation
- Help in furnishing accommodation
- Help in gaining access to other support services
- Help in setting up tenancy
- General safety and security
- Help with leisure/social activities
We also work closely with statutory and other voluntary agencies to support women fleeing abuse and offer them help with housing or community support to aid prevention of them becoming homeless. This includes working with probation services, social services, health trusts and the police where necessary. Working in partnership with these agencies helps us offer the most suitable support to the women and children who need us most.
If you’re thinking of fleeing abuse and worried about homelessness…
We understand how daunting and frightening the prospect of fleeing abuse and being forced into homelessness is. We know that you may feel you have nowhere to turn, and no choice but to stay for a range of reasons. However, we are here to help and support you.
We can provide emergency accommodation or support you in your community if you are not ready, able, or wanting to leave. We can help you find alternative accommodation if you do want to flee, or after you have stayed with us in one of our refuges. And we can also offer advice on what your options are in terms of housing.
Today, on World Homeless Day 2021 we want to emphasise the words of Women’s Aid England’s in their 2019 ‘No Woman Turned Away’ release, which are:
“Survivors fleeing domestic abuse should not have to sofa-surf. Hostels or emergency accommodation are not appropriate either – women recovering from domestic abuse need the specialist, holistic support that domestic abuse refuges provide. It goes without saying that survivors should not have to sleep rough.”
This is why we encourage women who are worried about homelessness as a result of fleeing abuse to reach out to us. As a specialist domestic abuse support service with provisions for homelessness prevention, we can offer the support you need. Please reach out.
Call us: 028 9066 6049
Email us: support@eventsbelfastwomensaid-org-uk
Chat with us by clicking the chat bubble on the right-hand side
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