Women’s Homelessness Statement from the Women’s Treatment Working Group – Humankind

Women’s Homelessness Statement from the Women’s Treatment Working Group

Jack Keery

A woman is posing for a photo and smiling in her home kitchen. She is holding plates of food.

The Women’s Treatment Working Group are a national collective of drug and alcohol treatment providers. We are working together to ensure that women receive effective and appropriate community and residential drug and alcohol treatment services.

We call upon local authorities, commissioners, and policy makers to make sure that women who are struggling with substance use issues and presenting to services as ‘homeless’ are given the opportunity to access safe and appropriate accommodation that takes into account the specific needs of women.

Across our networks we are working with women who experience numerous vulnerabilities, such as complex trauma, substance use, sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, and sexual violence.

We find the specific framing of ‘women’s homelessness’ to be unhelpful and believe that homelessness is better understood as an outcome from one of more of these vulnerabilities.

When we focus upon a woman’s unmet need through the lens of homelessness, we risk underplaying the significance of these other important contributory factors.

Many vulnerable women are falling through the cracks when it comes to accessing safe refuge accommodation. Far too long women are being described as ‘complex’ and ‘homeless’ when the reality is that women are often experiencing serious levels of abuse and trauma.

The correct terminology would be ‘victim/survivor’, who requires safe refuge, not a general homelessness response. They require safe refuge accommodation that take account of their experiences.