Simon on The Streets, a local charity for the homeless, has joined students from the University of Leeds RAG Society and Leeds Street Outreach, so that ahead of International Women’s Day, the plight of female rough sleepers is highlighted.
On Wednesday 4 March, ahead of International Women’s Day, volunteers and charity workers joined students in Leeds’ City square and alongside Hughie’s Street Kitchen. They held placards to help passers-by, worded so that people can understand the hardships. Women will sleep in waiting rooms, on public transport and in toilets to avoid having to sleep on the street.
The event served also to remind people that homelessness isn’t a problem only experienced by men. Whilst statistics tell us that 14 per cent of rough sleepers are women, what is acutely alarming is that 3 in 10 women who are homeless experience sexual violence and sexual assaults occur to almost 1 in 4.
Simon on the Streets advise that 35% of female rough sleepers cite violent disputes in personal relationships as the reason for them leaving their accommodation.
Fiona Hobson, Admin, Communications and Volunteer Coordinator at Simon on the Streets commented:
“Many women who experience homelessness are often hidden from the public, from services and from official statistics. They are more likely to be among the ‘hidden homeless’ as they will make efforts to hide away or stay in exploitative situations to avoid sleeping on the streets.”
Simon on The Streets received funding in 2019 from Homeless Link’s Ending Women’s Homelessness grants programme. The grant has been used to fund two women’s outreach workers to work for the charity, with the aim of reducing the numbers of women living on the streets, supporting those in temporary accommodation and engaging with women who are ‘hidden homeless’ by delivering gender and trauma-informed assertive outreach.