For Professionals Women & Multiple Disadvantage Hidden homelessness research "Walking around all night, going on buses, sleeping in hospitals...or in woods on my own." - Female client Our award-winning research into women's homelessness revealed that women's homelessness occurs at a far greater scale than is generally recognised and that systemic failures leave women in a state of survival. It also found that domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence are near universal experiences for women who experience homelessness. The report, Women's Homelessness in Camden: Improving Data, Strategy, and Outcomes, is the largest-scale study into women’s homelessness in England. It was conducted with Single Homeless Project and Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace, Centre for Housing Policy, University of York, with the support of the London Borough of Camden. In 2022, the research won the Homelessness Excellence Award: Stronger Voice, which recognises powerful voices using their knowledge, experience, or passion to highlight issues of homelessness. The judging panel felt we had really ‘shone a light’ on women’s homelessness and had already achieved national impact as a result. Drawing on existing and previously unexplored data as well as lived experiences, the report makes recommendations for system change in the way homelessness and domestic abuse services are designed, delivered, commissioned and integrated - in Camden, across London, and nationally. Women are homeless in more significant numbers than has previously been assumed and are more likely to experience hidden homelessness. Women’s experiences are very distinct from those of men. There has been a failure to recognise, count and respond to women’s homelessness effectively. Lone adult homelessness is as likely to be female as male – women are just less visible. Domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence are near universal experiences for women who experience homelessness. “Women experiencing homelessness are living in a state of survival, often without access to services and inhigh-risk environments where they are frequently subjected to violence and abuse” - The University of York. The current system is shaped in a way that overlooks women's homelessness - the definition isn’t inclusive of all types of homelessness, counting focuses on environments which women often avoid, and research has previously oversampled men. This results in women living in a state of survival, often without access to services and in high-risk environments where they are frequently subjected to violence and abuse. Recommendations Women's strategy is a necessity, not an afterthought An effective response to women’s homelessness centres on ensuring recognition and understanding of women’s needs, and in being prepared to create strategies and adapt systems to support these needs (organisational, local authority and national level). The intersection of domestic abuse and homelessness needs to be fully recognised Homelessness service models, like Housing First, will require some modification if they are to properly recognise, respect and respond to women’s needs. The evidence to date points to services designed, built and run by women being likely to be the most effective. Coordination between domestic abuse and homelessness services at all levels must be highly developed if an effective strategy for women’s homelessness is to be built. Find the complete set of recommendations and findings, alongside insights into lived experience and data on women’s homelessness in the report here. You can also watch this webinar exploring the findings and our recommendations for the future. Our hopes for this research This research may not be surprising to many professionals working with women experiencing homelessness. However, with concrete data and the voices of lived experiences, this report makes the case for a rethink of the definition of homelessness and the retrieval of data, the shape and scope of services and demonstrates the need for a coordinated approach to homelessness and domestic abuse services. “The women we support report feeling judged and stigmatised when experiencing homelessness. We need to raise awareness of the fact that women experiencing homelessness have almost always been subjected to violence and abuse, repeated trauma, societal inequality – and that they are survivors, who need support which fully understands and responds to their experiences.”- Lucy Campbell, Head of Multiple Disadvantage Thank you to the women who shared their experiences, whose insights and recommendations will influence homelessness support and provision for others.