News: Women’s rough sleeping census – visit by the Minister for Rough Sleeping.

The Connection at St Martin’s yesterday welcomed the new minister for Rough Sleeping, Andrew Stephenson MP. He attended the launch of the first ever census of women’s rough sleeping taking place across London, a wonderful collaboration between The Connection, Solace Women’s Aid, St Mungo’s, Single Homelessness Project, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, the Greater London Authority and London Councils.

The census has come at a critical time: it is known women are under-represented in data on homelessness and rough sleeping, and that women tend to avoid mainstream homelessness services which are usually dominated by men. Women are at particular risk when sleeping rough, facing near universal experiences of violence and abuse. To keep themselves safe, women make sure they’re less visible to those who could harm them. They also, however, go unseen by services and therefore don’t appear in traditional street counts – a primary source of data on rough sleeping.

The Connection, launched our strategy to specifically address women’s homelessness in London in March 2022 with their partners Solace Women’s Aid.

One of the key recommendations in the strategy is to get more and better data, which the women’s census will help to do. There is gratitude that agencies and local authorities across London are collecting data all week to provide as complete a set of information as possible. This includes a wide range of support services across London and women identified during daytime outreach.

The Connection was pleased to see the government’s new strategy to tackle rough sleeping recognised the particular experiences of women and the need for ‘tailored, specific interventions’ to meet their needs. Once the census is completed and data is analysed, there will be a much better understanding of what services are needed for women experiencing homelessness, and this will ensure the right services are in place to meet their needs.