News – First National Census of Women Sleeping Rough – Solace Women’s Aid

Solace has worked in coalition with Single Homeless Project, London Councils and Homeless Link to deliver the first national census into the scale of women’s homelessness. For the first time councils from across England came together to undertake gender informed outreach to understand the number of women rough sleeping and how their experiences differ from men.

The National Women’s Rough Sleeping Census Report 2023 sets out the key findings from a week-long, national census of women sleeping rough in 41 local authorities across England. Teams conducting the census found 815 women, a far higher number than Government counts in those areas indicate.

Key findings 

The National Women’s Rough Sleeping Census Report found that:

  • Gender bias in existing Government counts, means that women are likely to be significantly underrepresented in rough sleeping data.
  • In the 41 local areas that took part in the Census, 815 women were identified compared to just 189 through the Government’s Rough Sleeping Census in 2023.
  • Women reported sleeping and sheltering in ‘hidden’ locations including A&E waiting rooms, on buses or trains, in squats, walking around all night, and staying with strangers.
  • These forms of rough sleeping are not all encompassed within the current government rough sleeping definition, meaning that women’s experiences are not recognised and their homelessness is less likely to be resolved.
  • Women reported rough sleeping patterns which were transient and intermittent, meaning they are less likely to be identified by outreach workers tasked with verifying and supporting people sleeping rough (i.e. because they spend nights walking around rather than ‘bedding down’).
  • A third of respondents reported that they had been in some form of homelessness accommodation prior to rough sleeping. This included council and government provided homelessness accommodation, and homelessness services such as hostels and refuges. This demonstrates that for many women, the accommodation offered to them is not resolving their homelessness, as it is either unsuitable for their needs or they have been unable to sustain it.

Read the full Women’s Rough Sleeping Census 2023 report now.

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