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Anna Yassin, Migrant Project Manager

9th March 2023

Image source: Single Homeless Project

Today is the report launch of ‘Making Women Count’, detailing findings from the pilot of the first women’s rough sleeping census. 

Between 3rd and 7th of October 2022 across London boroughs, homelessness outreach teams, practitioners and volunteers conducted surveys with women about their experiences of rough sleeping.  

The aim was to generate more insightful data on women’s homelessness that is not being captured by existing methodologies. Women are underrepresented in the statistics as they are less inclined to sleep rough for reasons of safety, or they will sleep in more hidden locations, out of sight of outreach teams and offers of assistance.  

As a member of the Women’s Rough Sleeping sub-group of the London-wide Life off the Streets programme, Glass Door Homeless Charity was proud to be involved in the planning of the census. In particular, we highlighted the oft-overlooked experiences of homeless migrant women who are further marginalised for lack of immigration status and excluded from accessing statutory services.  

Led by the Women’s Development Unit, St Mungo’s and Single Homeless Project (SHP), the census was an ambitious project, a ‘stepping stone’ for developing alternative methods and strategies to counting women who are rough sleeping, and understanding their experiences of homelessness.  

On 31st January 2023 we co-signed a letter to Felicity Buchan MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness, calling for government action and leadership on ending women’s homelessness, setting out our clear asks informed by the census: 

The Government should require local authorities to deliver an annual Women’s Rough Sleeping Census and report on their findings.  

The Government should produce guidance to support local authorities to improve access to rough sleeping services for women, including:  

  • Reducing access requirements/barriers to support and accommodation services for women, including the need to be a ‘verified’ rough sleeper 
  • Ensuring outreach practices encompass women’s experiences. 

Alongside our partners on the Life off the Streets programme, Glass Door looks forward to taking this agenda forward to secure tangible change for women experiencing homelessness.  

On a daily basis, we work with women who face multiple barriers on their route out of homelessness, whether they approach us in partnering day centres, at our women’s group or via the night shelters. 

At Glass Door we implement a gender informed approach in our casework practice. For example, self-identifying women guests are asked if they would prefer to speak with a woman Caseworker. Our weekly Women’s Group was set up to provide an alternative safe space to the busy homelessness day centres and drop-ins.  

A new guest of our Women’s Group told us recently: 

“I only feel safe in women only spaces. I access day centres only out of necessity if I need to use a shower or do laundry, but will avoid them otherwise, and would rather stay outside because I doesn’t feel safe in an environment around so many men.

Spaces like this are very important to me for this reason,  and provide a bit of respite from my current situation.

Read the full census report

To find out more about how we support women facing or experiencing homelessness:

Read real stories from women guests

Find out about our women's group