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15 March 2016

From 3:00 to 5:00pm Wednesday afternoons, the Chelsea Methodist Church turns into a women-only haven. Female guests sit together at a big communal table sharing tea, biscuits, and stories. Since the Women's Drop-in launched in April 2016, women have been able to shower, access the clothing bank, use the computers, and speak with a female caseworker, safe in the knowledge that this is a women-only space.

The first time the group got together, “it was quite emotional” recounts Anna Yassin, a Glass Door caseworker involved in the project.  Women from all ages and backgrounds are welcome, and the group not only share stories but also swap advice on where to find resources like safe hostels.  

Anna points out:

It was extraordinary to see the benefit this safe space created and truly highlighted the value of the project.

“Women’s triggers and experiences of homelessness are distinct from men’s,” says Anna.  “There are higher levels of mental health problems among female rough sleepers, and they are more vulnerable to sexual violence. The women’s group provides a temporary respite."

One of the regular members of the group joked she was more comfortable talking when “there were no men to spoil the environment!”  

“I used to own a house, used to pay mortgage and pay my bills, I never thought I would end up on the street,” she said.

“Here, I can take a shower without having to make my way through a crowded hall of men. And we can get toiletries and clothes and speak to the other women. It helps me keep my spirits up.”