A voice for change Women's Homelessness The case of George St and the need for female-only accommodation Safe spaces for women can be a rarity in the capital but, as the numbers of female homeless rise and more is learnt about their needs, the value of female-only accommodation sites is starting to be realised. We know that the experience of women facing homelessness is different. They can be at risk of exploitation and abuse. This is why a safe space for them to live and recover, away from dangers they have been exposed to, is crucial. Our George St hostel, an 11-bed project in North London, has been commissioned to become a women’s only accommodation site, offering respite and calm to those who have led lives where this was not an option. Service Manager Judit explains why it came about: “The availability of female-focused services let alone accommodation has been lacking in my borough. There are a few small services but nothing like a proper accommodations site. “Covid made the problem difficult to ignore. We know that women are more likely to be part of the ‘hidden homeless’ population, often forced to stay in unsafe accommodation, to avoid the larger dangers of sleeping rough. When the pandemic came and hotels were used to house people experiencing homelessness, more and more women emerged needing support. “We were asked to make George St a women’s only project and that’s what we’re doing now.” The process of becoming a female-focused service includes learning about the specific needs of women and how their support might differ to their male counterparts. Judit says, “The circumstances that our female clients have been subjected to our terrible. We are working on building up knowledge in the team to help us support them in the best way we can. We need to be working in a trauma-informed way and ensuring that we are best equipped to help them. Luckily there is lots of support from teams like Fulfilling Lives Islington & Camden who have put out guidance on this that we can use. “Women’s only accommodation in North London is long overdue. It’s my hope that George St will allow women in the area who have never been given a chance, to start their journeys to recovery.” To protect residents, the name of the service has been changed.