Women become `the hidden face of homelessness'

NEARLY TWO THIRDS of Britain's homeless women are living on the streets because they have been the victims of domestic violence.

Research done by the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York showed that women only used night shelters or hostels as a last resort, because most believed they were violent and unsafe.

Although the number of people sleeping rough over the past 20 year has decreased, the proportion of women has increased. More than 10,000 people sleep rough in England over the course of a year and it is estimated that 10 per cent of them are now women. "Women have become the hidden homeless. For years research about the nature and causes of single homelessness has focused on men because there are more men on the street," said Shaks Ghosh, the chief executive of Crisis, the national charity for single homeless people.

"As a woman myself I am appalled that this already vulnerable group is being further let down at times when they desperately need additional support and often remain invisible to those in a position to provide support," she said.

The study, Out of Sight, Out of Mind? was based on interviews with 77 homeless women from Brighton, Liverpool, Bristol and London. The findings showed that 63 per cent of women between 30 and 49 years old cited domestic violence as the main reason for their homelessness. And 43 per cent of the women had slept rough more than once.

Nearly a quarter had been living in a hostel for over a year but many women avoided them, so that their partner could not find them. Women sleeping on the streets felt vulnerable and most had been attacked or verbally abused.

Frances Buck, originally from the Midlands, has been homeless for the past five years. She has moved in and out of hostels and has spent nearly four years living on the streets. Ms Buck, 45, was married for eight years and living in private rented accommodation before she left her violent husband. "I couldn't take the physical and mental violence any more," she said. "I ran away to a hostel but he found me through the hostel system. I left him four or five times, but ended up living on the streets so he couldn't find me." Ms Buck has tried to get council accommodation but has been told she must wait for several years.

"Living on the streets is petrifying," she said. "You have to sleep with one eye open. I have woken up with men trying to get into my sleeping bag."

t Britain's first court to deal specifically with domestic violence is to be launched by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

The pioneering court will be launched this week in Leeds, to try to improve the way victims and offenders are dealt with. It will operate, for a trial period, on one day a week at the city magistrates' court. Specialist advice will be provided by police officers, probation service staff and Halt, a charitable group that supports victims of domestic violence.

West Yorkshire's divisional chief probation officer, Ian Lankshear, said: "The courts, police, probation service and Halt will be working together to support women who are victims of violence from men they know and to bring about changes in the men's behaviour."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...