Many homelessness support services that specifically help women are finding it difficult to get women to reach out to them early enough. On finding themselves without a roof, men often seek out help from such services much sooner than women. A number of organisations have recently been discussing ways to overcome this issue.
Advocacy services such as doctors, midwifes and community centres are not geared up to ask about homelessness. If they were, perhaps women would approach the services that can support them sooner.
Although there are a high and increasing number of excellent support services available, a disjointed approach makes it difficult for homeless women to identify and approach organisations that will be most suited to their needs. The result, combined with the real challenges faced by homeless women, makes the road to recovery an unnecessarily complicated one.
So I would like to ask the question – why, when so many organisations that support women are talking about the issue, does the problem still remain?
It seems apparent that a coordinated service role is needed. Could it be that a homeless organisation providing secure, suitable and stable housing for women could do this role and create a tailored recovery pathway for the women in its care?
One such organisation is St Mungo’s Broadway. April saw them hold their third annual Supporting Women’s Recovery Conference. It was great to see that an existing prostitution section was included as part of the discussions, where Caroline Murphy who project manages Chrysalis at St Mungo’s Broadway gave a talk on what the project is and highlighted the issues facing these women.
The Chrysalis project offers a one stop shop recovery housing pathway with a real emphasis on providing women exiting street-based prostitution with housing. This housing would form as a solid base from which to recover, along with provision of all the other services that a woman needs to access. These aren’t just provided by St Mungo’s Broadway but they also play an advocacy role in getting the woman the help she needs.
Another such organisation is Midland Heart. Last week, they held a discussion on Women with Multiple Needs; breaking the cycle – findings unveiled. Midland Heart use the strap line – ‘housing, care and opportunity’. They have been working with Anawim, who informally refer women when they believe they are ready to benefit from stable housing.
This partnership work is not innovative but obvious. And they are making a success of it.
More organisations need to take a look into partnerships – both local and national; and like St Mungo’s Broadway, Midland Heart and Anawim, create working relationships that can
effectively help to support women who are homeless sooner.
Project Development Manager