As this year’s pan-London women’s rough sleeping census gets underway, boroughs have declared their ongoing support for the project and commitment to helping women sleeping rough in the capital.
Running from 25 September to 1 October, the census is designed to improve understanding of the extent and nature of women’s rough sleeping in the capital. Frontline homelessness workers and volunteers will complete a short census survey with women they see sleeping rough across the course of the week.
Backed by London Councils and other partners, the initiative is led by Single Homeless Project, Solace Women’s Aid and St Mungo’s.
This is only the second year of the pan-London women’s rough sleeping census. The 2022 count found 154 women rough sleeping in London in a week – a higher number of women than previously believed. However, this may still under-represent the true figure.
Counting women who sleep rough is complex as many are not in touch with support services. Women’s rough sleeping tends to be more intermittent and hidden. Experiences of violence and abuse are almost universal for women who sleep rough and the average age of death is just 43 years old – even younger than the figure for men.
The data gathered from the census will help inform future service provision. With their key role in local housing and homelessness support, boroughs are committed to working with partners across London’s homelessness sector to increase safety and improve outcomes for women sleeping rough.
Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ Executive Member for Regeneration, Housing & Planning, said:
“Rough sleeping is particularly dangerous for women, and we’re determined to reduce the number sleeping rough and to ensure that appropriate support is available.
“The census is a vital tool for helping us understand the scale of the challenge and for targeting resources. Boroughs are proud to be part of the pan-London partnership tackling this issue.”
Michelle Binfield, London Councils’ Rough Sleeping Programme Director, said:
“The census gives us a clearer picture of how many women sleep rough in London, as well as wider insight into their experiences and the support they need.
“Improved data is critical for informing our strategic response. Alongside our partners across London’s homelessness sector, we will continue to do everything we can to help women off the streets and into safe accommodation.”
Lucy Campbell, Head of Multiple Disadvantage, Single Homeless Project, said:
“The consequences of rough sleeping are devastating for women. And the way in which our support systems have been designed actually disadvantages women further. Every woman who might be seeking refuge in cafes, on night buses and on stranger’s floors deserves our support.
"We hope that the results of our census will shine a light on this and encourage the government to put in place our recommendations and make a lasting impact.”
Nahar Choudhury, CEO, Solace Women’s Aid, said
“Women who are rough sleeping are often more vulnerable to male violence. They therefore have to take significant steps to stay safe which makes them less visible to support services. Even for those women who reach support they are often not designed to meet their needs, and women can feel let down. The census is crucial in making women visible and ensuring central and local governments have the right services to support women of the streets.”
More details on the Women’s Pan-London Rough Sleeping Census are available here.