The Women’s Health Strategy: it’s crucial women experiencing homelessness are part of the consultation

By Sarah Hough, Groundswell Research Project Worker

The Government is making a new plan for England about Women’s Health, called the Women’s Health Strategy.

As part of this, the Government is seeking people’s views to help inform the Strategy through a ‘call for evidence’.

Groundswell was invited to a joint round table meeting with Minster Nadine Dorries, and colleagues from charities; St Mungos, Crisis and Homeless Link on the 19th of May 2021.

Rachel Brennan, and I were delighted to represent Groundswell and to talk about the findings of our Women’s Homeless Health and #HealthNow research projects to ensure the voices of woman experiencing homelessness were heard and represented.

 

What happened at the meeting?

Minister Dorries spoke passionately about addressing the need for better healthcare for women, stating that women’s health is at the heart of her work since being in post.

She was “blown away” by mortality figures and asked why women experiencing homelessness are dying so young.

Rachel and I responded that many women experiencing homelessness are living with chronic unaddressed health issues and have often experienced adverse childhood experiences, multiple disadvantage, massive trauma and gender-based violence.

We highlighted that physical health and mental health issues are a direct cause of homelessness and are also exacerbated by experiencing homelessness or by living in bad quality or unsuitable temporary housing.

We highlighted some of the many barriers that women experience including services not being trauma and gender informed, the lack of choice regarding the gender of the of practitioner being seen; the shaming effect of being stigmatised for not confirming to societal gender norms and trying to fit into and navigate services designed by men for men.

We spoke about Groundswell’s HHPA service and our Peer research illustrating the importance of co-production and working with people who have lived experience to develop effective solutions to homeless issues.

 

Get involved in the consultation

We know from research that Woman experiencing homelessness face the worst health inequalities and outcomes and their voices need to be included in this consultation.

Please do take the time to promote this and encourage all woman to be part of this consultation.

Minister Dorries is committed to involving woman at the heart of decision making, “because they haven’t been to date”, and are needed to shape policies and services which work for us.

Minster Dorries, recognises it’s; “Vitally important that the voices of women experiencing homelessness are part of the consultation.” To not ensure those voices are included would be “…a dereliction of responsibility.”

I agree, we need to be part of this consultation, to give our experiences and to feed into the changes required to make health policies relevant and effective for all women.

The consultation is a real opportunity for woman to feed into Government policy and to share their experiences, good and bad of using health care services in the UK.

Any woman over the age of 16 years old can complete the online survey on the below details, you can also print and email the document or post to the below details. The deadline for your answers is : 11.45pm on the 13th of June 2021.

Other ways to complete the survey

The easy read version of the survey can also be completed online here.

Download a PDF version of the survey here and complete it. Then return it in one of the following ways:

  1. Scan and email to [email protected] OR
  2. Post your response to:

Women’s Health Strategy Consultation

Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries Unit

Department of Health and Social Care

39 Victoria Street

London

SW1H 0EU

United Kingdom