The upcoming Women’s Aid winter conference will be delving into the hidden housing crisis being caused by domestic violence in the UK. This is a topic I feel very passionately about, and it’s also one of the areas Big Society Capital’s homes team focuses on. That’s why I’m very excited to not only be attending the conference, but also to have the opportunity to be one of the Lighting Round speakers, alongside expert speakers from across local authorities, housing associations, social landlords and the private rented sector alongside domestic abuse and services tackling violence against women and girls.
I believe we need more people across different sectors to be involved in these discussions and would encourage anyone with an interest in addressing women’s homelessness to register for the conference. It takes place in London on 28th January, and you can find out more on the Women’s Aid website here.
Many support providers have highlighted the hidden nature of women’s homelessness and its links with domestic abuse and other forms of violence against women and girls. There has also been hard evidence of this, with research from Homeless Link (the national membership charity for organisations working directly with people who become homeless in England) revealing 32% of homeless women say domestic abuse contributed to their homelessness .
At their event in January, Women’s Aid will be putting a spotlight on the urgent need for an effective housing response to this crisis. Without this we will never be able to truly tackle domestic abuse, as the availability of appropriate housing can mean the difference between a survivor feeling able to leave her abuser or feeling trapped in a home where she is not safe. And we know that a secure home is key to moving on and rebuilding a new life for those women and children.
The event will also allow people to hear from survivors on their experience of housing, and the barriers and enablers faced in escaping and securing long-time safety. It will explore how effective current homelessness legislation is in protecting survivors, and what reforms are needed. And most importantly it will foster a discussion on the ‘whole housing approach’ to domestic abuse – from best practice to culture change across the housing sector.
All of this resonates with our research on the housing needs of women in challenging circumstances. It also reinforces our motivation to work with partners, such as Resonance, Patron Capital and Social and Sustainable Capital, to use social investment to provide safe, secure and affordable homes for the women who need it most.
So join in this discussion, I hope to see you at the conference!