Research indicates that women experiencing homelessness frequently feel unsafe in mixed-sex homelessness settings; they have often experienced violence and abuse at various stages of their lives, and are at heightened risk of exploitation and violence during periods of homelessness. Consequently, most, if not all, best practice guidance and toolkits produced around women’s homelessness repeatedly call for the creation of women-only spaces as a means to encourage women to access services and to provide emotional and physical safety for clients when they do so.
This guidance explores the rationale behind women’s spaces, the benefits of such spaces and considerations for developing women’s spaces within mixed-sex homelessness settings. It is hoped that this guidance will support the sector to develop gender− and trauma-informed services to increase access to safe and supportive spaces for some of the most vulnerable women in society.
This guidance was created in collaboration with several homelessness organisations in the form of interviews, focus groups and workshops, learning from the establishment of women-only provision at The Connection at St Martin’s (CSTM), existing research on women’s homelessness and women only-spaces, and women with lived experience in the form of focus groups and surveys.
It was produced by the Women’s Development Unit, a partnership project between The Connection at St Martin’s and Solace Women’s Aid.