Women who sleep rough are at constant high risk of trauma, violence and abuse, and severe, complex health needs. No woman should have to sleep rough and endure these devastating consequences.  

Single Homeless Project is part of a coalition of leading women's and homelessness organisations committed to addressing the systemic inequalities that prevent women who rough sleep from accessing the support and accommodation they so desperately need. 

The coalition has delivered a letter to the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Housing and Homelessness, calling for a response that recognises the urgent and distinct problems faced by women who are rough sleeping. 

The specific calls to action on the Government are: 

  • Local authorities should be required to deliver an annual Women’s Rough Sleeping Census and report on their findings. 
  • The Government should produce guidance to help local authorities to improve access to rough sleeping services for women, including:
  • Reducing barriers to support and accommodation services for women, including the need to be a verified rough sleeper. 
  • Ensuring outreach practices encompass women’s experiences.  

The calls to action in the letter are informed by the results of the first ever London-wide women’s rough sleeping census and subsequent report Making Women Count’. The report, due to be launched in March 2023, was written by social research consultancy Praxis Collab and funded by Single Homeless Project. 

‘Making Women Count’ emphasises that women’s rough sleeping is often transient, intermittent and hidden, meaning that women are often not represented in official statistics and, crucially, are often precluded from accessing support and housing. The effects of this inequality of access are severe: experiences of violence and abuse are “near universal” for women who sleep rough, and the average age of death is just 43 years old, even younger than their male counterparts. 

Lucy Campbell, Head of Multiple Disadvantage, said: “Ending rough sleeping for good means ending rough sleeping for everyone. This can only be achieved if the nature and extent of women’s rough sleeping is fully recognised and responded to with gender-informed approaches and provision.  

We urge the Government to take action to address this damaging gender inequality and provide the leadership, guidance and resources needed to implement our clear recommendations.” 

To read the full letter and see the list of 35 organisations backing the calls to action, click here.