Richmond and Wandsworth Councils have been awarded government funding that will help to support women victims of domestic violence and abuse. The Councils will be working in partnership with SPEAR and Refuge.
Last year, SPEAR received funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government to provide a specialist support service for homeless women who had experienced domestic violence, and this funding will allow us to continue this vital project for another year.
Alongside large increases in homelessness over the past five years, the number of female rough sleepers has also increased. Many of these highly vulnerable women have experienced violence and abuse, including some being trafficked and sexually exploited. 87% of women verified as rough sleeping in Richmond by SPEAR in 2015-16 had a history of domestic violence and abuse and/or childhood trauma linked to abuse.
SPEAR’s outreach team work hard to locate and support this more difficult to reach group, who are often not as highly visible as male rough sleepers. Women generally prefer to find and sleep in more concealed locations, due to the risk of further violence and abuse that can occur living on the streets. In 2015-16 SPEAR verified 26 new rough sleeping women (almost 25 percent of all new rough sleepers)
Many of these women have a high level of need, often with mental health and substance misuse and sometimes chaotic behaviour, meaning they are not always accepted into more mainstream refuge services. They also find it more difficult to be placed in larger emergency hostels, such as SPEAR’s Penny Wade House, which can be male dominated and perceived by them as a more threatening environment.
SPEAR offers these women a home within a small, secure and supportive environment, with specialist skilled female staff, experienced in psychological support and trauma care.
SPEAR’s Operations Director, Lesleigh Bounds, said:
“We’re so pleased to receive this funding to continue our essential support to this highly vulnerable group of women, and to build upon the successes that we have achieved over the past year. Many of the residents have gone on to make significant improvements in their life, and their health and wellbeing has improved dramatically. We’re looking forward to continuing to build the relationship with the Councils and our domestic violence partners.”