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Women's Homelessness - What's the difference?

Women experience homelessness in different ways to men. Triggers of homelessness as well as experiences while homeless are unique to each person, however a person's gender and relationship to their gender impacts on their experience. To consider the impact of gender is to adopt a 'gender informed' approach.

Women are less likely to be visibly homeless, for a variety of reasons, a significant reason being the need to manage their own safety. Women are more likely to experience homelessness between temporary accommodation, other precarious forms of accommodation and rough sleeping. Women are also less easily categorised as single and homeless, their relationship to motherhood affecting their experience of being homeless.

Myths or assumptions about women’s experience impact on most aspects of homelessness, from who is represented in the data, how services are commissioned and designed, and how the public treat women who are visibly homeless. Myth Busting Women’s Homelessness

How can services improve their support for women?

When services are designed without considering how to cater to the diverse needs of people they support, those needs are often hidden. For example, if a service does not consider how to create a safe environment for women, then the women may not attend that service and it will appear the need is not there.

The report 'Promising Practice from the Frontline' (2019) and briefing (2017) explore how services can develop a gender-informed approach, in order to improve outcomes for the women they support, and those they are not yet able to reach. The Ending Women's Homelessness Fund administered funds to grant recipients to develop new initiatives or enhance their existing work to improve support for women experiencing homelessness and multiple disadvantage. The Insights and Impact report (2021) examines what the grant recipients learnt in their work and how that learning can be applied to improve outcomes for women.

All Women are Different

Women are not a homogenous group and it important to recognise how the experience of women of color, trans women, queer and disabled women among many others may be different from each other. In order to provide effective support to women, it is important to explore how their lives are impacted by forms of structural violence which shape their experiences of homelessness and their relationship to services.

Have a look at Homeless Link's other areas of expertise in diverse needs and consider how they intersect with gendered experiences of homelessness.

Black women experiencing homelessness are invisible

In this blog published as part of a series for Black History Month, we hear from Dionne Williams about her lived experience of, and perspectives on, homelessness.

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Women in Relationships

Supporting women while they are in a relationship, particularly when you might consider it an unhealthy relationship can be a really complex task.

Standing Together and Single Homeless Project have developed a training on how to work effectively with survivors and perpetrators of domestic abuse in homelessness settings. The course outline is available below.

Training: Confidence in Complexity

'Confidence in complexity'

This training course will provide practitioners with the opportunity to increase their knowledge, skills and confidence when working with survivors of domestic abuse, perpetrators of domestic abuse or encountering both simultaneously, within the context of multiple disadvantage.

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Developing a Gender-informed Service : External guidance and toolkits

Toolkit: Setting up a Women's Space in Homelessness Setting

The Women's Development Unit (WDU) was a joint project between The Connection at St Martin’s and Solace Women’s Aid (Solace), a collaboration that aimed to ensure services understand the experiences of women and can meet the needs and risks that are a day-to-day reality for women experiencing homelessness in London. The WDU produced a toolkit to help organisations looking to set up a gender informed service. WDU also devised a strategy for ending women's homelessness in London. There is a lot of information in the strategy which will be useful to services not based in London.

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Guidance: Supporting Homeless Women Experiencing Multiple Disadvantage

This guidance is part of a ‘Safety by Experience’, a joint project between St Mungo’s, Standing Together Against Domestic Violence and funded by Homeless Link’s Ending Women’s Homelessness Fund.

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Toolkit: Addressing Domestic and Sexual Violence, Substance Use and Mental Ill-health

This toolkit is produced by AVA and is designed to raise awareness of how domestic and sexual violence, problematic substance use and mental ill-health often co-exist. It details effective ways to engage with individuals and families who are affected by these issues.

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Toolkit: Homeless Pregnancy

This toolkit is developed by St Mungo's and sets out to how to empower pregnant homeless women to have a degree of choice and decision making over their pregnancy.

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Guidance: Developing effective gender-responsive support and solutions for women experiencing homelessness

Guidance produced by the Feansta on how to develop a gender informed homelessness service.

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Women’s Prison Release Practice Briefing: Improving accommodation outcomes for women in contact with the criminal justice system

A resource to support joint work by national and local agencies throughout England and Wales to ensure women prison leavers have safe and suitable1 accommodation.

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Toolkit: Whole Housing Approach

This toolkit was produced by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) as a practical guide for local areas on how to implement the While Housing Approach (WHA). The Whole Housing Approach is a framework to help people experiencing domestic abuse to either maintain or access safe and stable housing.

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Get Involved: Women's Housing Movement

The women's housing network is a building a movement to ensure women who experience homelessness receive the best support. Read this briefing to understand more about the women's housing movement and opportunities to get involved.

Womens Housing Movement

Get involved by joining the upcoming events delivered by the Women's Housing Movement

Talk To Us


Isabel Langdale

National Practice Development Project Manager (Women's Homelessness Lead)