Women experiencing homelessness are highly vulnerable and often have complex needs, they are one of the most isolated groups in society.
The average life expectancy for homeless women is just 43 years – 4 years shorter than homeless men and 37 years shorter than the general female population. Women who are homeless are at high risk of mental health problems and are frequently victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Gerry (pictured) is one of our caseworkers, she leads a small team of female peer advocates to deliver this project solely focusing on the health of women who are currently homeless or vulnerably housed. This project team all have previous personal experience of homelessness, helping them to build up relationships with the women they are supporting because of their shared understanding and experience.
The peers deliver health promotion sessions in women-only safe spaces such as day centres and hostels. These sessions focus on specific issues they may face such as mental health, cervical and sexual health screening, contraception and breast cancer. By building up understanding as well as trust women are more likely to engage with health services, meaning they become pro-active in addressing their health concerns. In addition to these group sessions the caseworker and peer advocates support women one-to-one to access the health services they require, helping them gain trust in the system and take control of their lives by becoming part of the community.
If you are interesting in setting up or commissioning a similar service in your area to support women to address their health needs we would be happy to help. Find out more here.
The Women’s HHPA project is generously funded by the GLA’s Rough Sleeping Innovation Fund and the Pilgrim Trust.