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Research reveals why women across Europe are sleeping rough


More than seven out of ten women who are sleeping rough in the UK say they experienced abuse from their partners, says new research previewed at a conference in London today.

The research is by Professor Kate Moss from the University of Wolverhampton who will formally present the research to the European Commission in Brussels as part of the EU Daphne programme’s Women Rough Sleepers Who Suffer Violence project.

Today she previews the report with homelessness agencies at the Getting it Right for Women conference, organised with charity St Mungo’s which has launched a campaign, Rebuilding Shattered Lives, to improve services for homeless women.

Her findings come from interview with women rough sleepers in the UK, Spain, Sweden and Hungary. The average age of the UK women involved in the research was just under 34 years.

The research also shows: 

  • There is a acute lack of knowledge about the needs of women who sleep rough
  • Women on the streets tend to have a low visibility due to fears about safety or mistrust of services due to negative past experiences 
  • Women tend not to engage with homelessness services, either due to a lack of awareness or lack of suitable provision.

Professor Kate Moss said: “Worryingly, many women rough sleepers become homeless to escape violence from a partner or someone they know. Local government organisations and agencies have not been provided with enough expertise and knowledge on the issue and therefore are not adequately equipped to tackle it. Homelessness services tend to be focused on the needs of male rough sleepers, but agencies must share their knowledge and best practices on how to cater to the needs of women as well”.

Tanya English, Executive Director at St Mungo’s said: “We already know that one in three (34%) of St Mungo’s female clients who have slept rough experienced domestic violence which led to their homelessness. That’s why we’re running our Rebuilding Shattered Lives campaign, which invites submissions on best practice to raise awareness of women sleeping rough and influence policy. Professor Moss’ research will be an invaluable contribution towards addressing the needs of hundreds of women on the streets.”


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