International Women’s Day 2020 is both a time to celebrate the fantastic achievements of women and to consider the challenges still faced by women today. We’re proud to have a gender equal trustee board and senior management team here at Emmaus UK. However, we also see the devastating impact that homelessness and social exclusion has on women.

A study from St Mungo’s found that women have been disproportionately hit by changes to the welfare benefit system which has contributed to increasing numbers of women experiencing homelessness (St Mungo’s, 2018). 14% of the people found sleeping on the streets in the government’s most recent rough sleeping statistics were women, and it’s likely these figures underestimate the problem because women are more likely to be concealed or hidden homeless.

Women’s experience of homelessness tends to be different to men’s and as such, women are likely to have more complex needs:

  • Many have experiences of trauma and abuse, and more significant mental health difficulties than men who experience homelessness (Homeless Link 2017).
  • Almost half are mothers and 79% of these women have had their children taken into care or adopted. Many are traumatised by the loss of their children and struggle to cope with limited contact (St Mungo’s, 2014).
  • Women’s homelessness is very closely associated with domestic abuse with almost half having experienced domestic violence (St Mungo’s, 2014).

In our communities we supported 202 women in 2019, which is around 13% of the total number of people we supported. Read the stories of some of our inspirational companions, volunteers and staff members below.