This piece has been reposted with an introduction by Sheryle.
Why are women hidden homeless ? Women are not hidden homeless they are just not seen, unlike men. Some women ride buses. Some women wait until dark to bed down after walking around all day. Some women are in full sight, living in doorways. Some women are fleeing but need evidence to support their claim if they approach any council to get help . Why are women hidden and not seen ?
Many services are run generically and cater to men and do not have the specific resources to help women who have experienced certain kinds of trauma. Women who are hiding from perpetrators often fear using these services for fear of being targeted for sexual abuse and prostitution.
To a women experiencing homelessness shelters can seem unsafe. Many feel safer sleeping on the street rather than in a hostel situation where there may be dangerous men. It can be an intimidating environment for someone who has suffered abuse at the hands of a man.
As a women with lived experience of being street homeless I had to wait two and half years to be placed in a women’s hostel as I wouldn’t go into a mixed hostel. There wasn’t many women only hostels in London and none which would accept a woman with’ high support needs’.
Women are often stuck in limbo like I was and it is frustrating. Women lose their homes and their possessions when going to prison and are often released homeless as housing benefit stops if you are inside for twelve weeks or more. This in turn can cause barriers to accessing day centres or the other types of support you need as women due to the loss of a ‘local connection’ that entitles you to that support.
The government needs to get their fingers out of their butt- cheeks and do a lot more to support women. It needs to do a lot more to make sure we are seen and are given access to the right support and care package before we become just another homeless death statistic.
In the two months I was rough sleeping I knew of four women who had tragically died far too young because they ‘slipped through the net.’ I used to think ‘I’m next, when is it my turn.’
Image created by Poppy Burnley