Fulfilling Lives in Islington and Camden

Fulfilling Lives in Islington & Camden (FLIC) is an eight-year Lottery funded learning programme closing in May 2022, designed to support people experiencing multiple disadvantage and affect system change to improve the experience and outcomes for people accessing services.

Too often the voices of people experiencing multiple disadvantage aren't heard. Putting clients at the centre of everything we do is key to our work. Our support service is intensive, trauma-informed and led by the experiences and insights of our clients.

We work in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies across both boroughs to improve services for people with multiple needs and drive systemic change, influencing how services are designed and delivered.

“I would like see that women who face homelessness/multiple disadvantage portrayed less as being permanent victims of the situation they find themselves in and more as being in a situation that is temporary and transient.” - Client. 

A day a year to ‘celebrate’ women does not do justice to the strength and character of the women we work with. However, taking a moment to sit back and reflect with our team and clients was extremely powerful and poignant. 

When FLIC started in 2014, it became immediately clear that a gender-informed approach was going to be key. We realised that almost half of the clients being referred to us were women, and almost all of them had experienced domestic abuse and/or other forms of gender based violence. This prevalence of abuse and the uniqueness of women's experiences of homelessness was the driver behind all of our work in this area -  designing, piloting and evaluating new approaches to reaching and supporting women. 

As always, lived experience and the client voice is essential to our work. We were delighted to sit down and interview two women with experiences of homelessness and gender-based violence. As stigma, abuse and violence is a common experience of the women we work with, it is often unsafe to film or identify our clients. However, we are sure you will agree that their words alone are powerful enough.

We also created a short film with our team where we asked them what misconceptions they believe are damaging to women experiencing homelessness and multiple disadvantage, what changes the system needs to make to better support women’s needs and what inspires them. As you can imagine it was near impossible editing this film down, so this is only a snapshot of some of their thoughts.

Client Voice: Sarah's Interview

What false ideas of women and homelessness/multiple disadvantage would you like to see disappear? 
I would like see that women who face homelessness/multiple disadvantage portrayed less as being permanent victims of the situation they find themselves in and more as being in a situation that is temporary and transient. It can - and for most - will change. Positive examples of women who have been on a journey through homelessness/multiple disadvantage should be shared and used to inspire others. This place represents a page or a chapter in our life - not the whole book and anyone could find themselves here. 

What inspires you about the women you know? 
That no matter what happens to them, they can laugh and find something in life that brings a smile. 

Do you feel it is important to have women-only spaces? 
Many issues women face are unique to their sex. The same is true for men. Sometimes it is easier to talk about things in the company of women, rather than men. 

What do you think services could do better to support women? 
I think services should be designed using the voices of women throughout. The lived experience should have just as strong an influence as theory and research, if not more. It is also very important to have interpreting and translation service available, so that women are able to express themselves fully. 

FLIC Team: Biases, system changes and inspirations

Client Voice: Jane's Interview

What false ideas of women and homelessness/multiple disadvantage would you like to see disappear? 
There is a stereotype that women who are homeless are victims with no agency. This doesn’t reflect my experience; everyone has a different story, we’ve all experienced violence in some way, but this looks so is so different for everyone. We are not powerless victims; we are strong and have positive futures. 

What inspires you about the women you know? 
Women’s ability to be able to handle really difficult situations and multiples things at the same time and still get through this. 

Do you feel it is important to have women-only spaces? 
Yes, 100%! Whenever I am with men, I always feel on edge and that something really serious could happen. I feel that I can’t rely on society’s morals; I don’t trust that I will be kept safe. When I am in only spaces, I feel that I can relax and can be safe. I wish there were more public spaces that were women-only. 

Do you have positive examples of how services support women? 
Yes – here, of course! When I first came, I was welcomed – I was given essentials, homely things, warmth, and comfort in the winter. It was so nice. 

What do you think services could do better to support women? 
Acknowledge their emotions, especially if they are going into something very traumatic. If you, do not it can trigger a spiral of depression, in which the woman is being neglected and ignored. Make more safe places accessible to women and advertise these so that women know that they exist, that they can leave harmful spaces.