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A greater emphasis on a gender-informed approach is needed for women to move away from the cycles of homelessness, an independent study finds.

Homelessness – particularly rough sleeping – is dangerous for anyone, but a new study by Sophia Fedorowicz, commissioned by Brighter Futures in partnership with Expert Citizens, identifies a need for women’s services to be more visible – including a recommendation for an increase in outreach services.

Further recommendations include the need for greater outreach services to take support directly to people, a need to understand women’s needs beyond rough sleeping, and the impact of motherhood. Multiple and complex needs, such as substance misuse, are frequent for those living in hard circumstances.

Women’s homelessness is commonly interconnected with a history of abuse and trauma. This comes in a cycle, with abuse causing homelessness – and the vulnerability that comes with homelessness makes them even more vulnerable to abuse. They are also far more likely to be hidden away to feel safe.

Brighter Futures continues to develop services that meet the needs of the community – to prevent a return to homelessness.

Jane Turner, Operational Manager at Brighter Futures, says:

“Crisis points are the only time services experience strong women’s engagement. We’ve found that women with complex needs access our support when they reach crisis point, which gets resolved, and then we don’t see them until the next. That’s a result of multiple disadvantages and limited access to services that address issues long-term. They get to a crisis point because issues aren’t addressed.

“Specialised services can work with lower caseloads and provide the service coordination people need to make a full recovery. They’re a point of access for people to be signposted to different areas – all of which help with different issues.

“It’s important that practice continues to move in the direction of supporting women, including the needs of those with experience of violence and still living with its consequences.”

The report was commissioned through a review of Brighter Futures’ Specialised Support Worker through Housing First Stoke-on-Trent. A £90,000 grant was made available through the National Lottery Community Fund to promote the impact of a gender-informed approach and provide an alternative solution.

Housing First was a pilot project in Stoke-on-Trent as part of the VOICES Network – both led by Brighter Futures.

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