Research has shown that the experience of domestic abuse is ‘near universal’ for women who become homeless, and yet often, women who are fleeing domestic abuse are let down by support systems that should work for everyone. Women need a place to feel safe to re-build their lives. Traditional, mixed-gender hostels often aren’t the right environment for this. That’s why we have five, dedicated women-only services. For Plum, this made all the difference in helping her on her journey to independence. In just over a year, Plum has gone from rough sleeping to studying for her dream career – setting up a nursery.

“People who experience homelessness do so for different reasons. It depends how you got there and for some people it’s harder to get out of than others. But for women, we’ve got other things that are attached to that experience of homelessness. Strong as we are, with a support system like this one at the Single Homeless Project, we can push ourselves to achieve something higher. When women come together and help each other, we can overcome experiences like homelessness.

“When I first came here, it took me a while to settle in because I was running from domestic abuse and trying to deal with my housing situation at the same time. I thought I’d have to handle everything myself because when I tried to get help in the past, I was let down or sent in the wrong direction.

“But the staff took their time with me, and we built a mutual understanding. Because I’d been dealing with things on my own for so long, I didn’t know how to make use of the help at first. I had my ups and downs, but they were always there to support me. Here you can also have the support of other women around you who have experienced similar things to you. By sharing our journeys with each other we can get insight into how things work. If that help wasn’t in place, I think it would be a lot harder.

When Plum first arrived at Single Homeless Project, she had been rough sleeping and had experienced a lot of trauma with her family.

“I wouldn’t wish rough sleeping on anyone. It’s cold. Finding somewhere to sleep is hard. If I was lucky, I’d get to sofa surf with friends – which meant I had to move around areas a lot. If parks weren’t gated, I’d try to sleep there. But living and sleeping outside and trying to hustle is hard. When I see people homeless now, I feel for them. I’ve been there. It’s tough. It’s very tough.

“If I didn’t have Single Homeless Project, I don’t know where I would be. I was rough sleeping before, and I really do not know where I’d be without them. They helped me know where to go and how to deal with things was a huge help.

We’re so proud of Plum. She has faced a lot of challenges, but despite that, she’s remained determined to reach her goals.

“I’ve always known what I wanted to do in my life. I’ve had a lot or barriers facing me, and due to previous trauma I have issues with connections and trust. I had to teach myself that love can come from anywhere and it needs to start from within.

“Overall, from where I came from to where I am today, I’ve seen a big change in myself. Now things are looking different for me. I recently did a paediatric first aid course, and I want to do Childcare Management Level 3 course and get my neo-natal course degree. Ultimately, I want to open a nursery. That’s what I see for myself. Single Homeless Project is helping me achieve my goal.

“We need more places like this. I didn’t know places like this existed. We need more of them. When I came here, I didn’t think this place would help me. But they helped me with everything. I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.”

We’re proud of you, Plum!