Women’s safety: housing and intersecting crises in Manchester

This news story signposts a report and campaign on the safety of women experiencing homelessness in Manchester that are the product of two events on women’s homelessness at the University of Manchester in the last year.

Women’s safety - housing and intersecting crises in Manchester

In May 2023, members of the Manchester Urban Institute Feminist Collective hosted the event “Women’s Safety: Housing and intersecting crises in Manchester” at the University of Manchester. 

This event was organised to bring together individuals, organisations and those working with and for local authorities to discuss women’s safety in the context of austerity and intersecting crises in the UK. 

The event began with a panel discussion in which Manchester Action for Street Health (MASH), Safety4Sisters, Shelter, Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST), and Manchester Women’s Aid shared information about their work to support women’s safety, underscoring the impact of austerity and intersecting crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the rising costs of living in the UK, on this work. 

A report was produced to outline the critical issues surrounding women’s safety and homelessness in Manchester raised within discussions at the event.

The report ‘Women’s Safety: Austerity and Intersecting crises in Manchester’ was launched at the University of Manchester in February 2024. The report outlines the key challenges facing the individuals and services working to support the safety of women who are experiencing homelessness in the context of austerity and intersecting crises in the UK.

The challenges and concerns highlighted in the report fall into two broad categories: (1) supporting women to access affordable housing, and (2) ensuring women have access to services. The report also signposts some useful responses to these challenges at the individual, local and national levels. The key recommendation the report provides is that policy on housing and women’s safety must be more inclusive going forward.

The follow-up event in February 2024 also provided the opportunity for the Women’s Homelessness Involvement Group (WHIG) to raise awareness about women’s homelessness and highlight the gaps in support for women and families experiencing homelessness in Manchester.

Stakeholders and those with lived experience came together at the event to discuss the impact of gaps in support on women’s and children’s lives, emphasising that as day centres do not allow children inside and these tend to be male-dominated spaces, there is a lack of spaces for mothers and families experiencing homelessness to go in Manchester. 

The report defines women’s safety as going beyond physical safety to include emotional and mental well-being, making the challenges faced by mothers experiencing homelessness in Manchester an issue of women’s safety.

WHIG presented their 2024 campaign ‘Give the Mum a Chance’, which has three clear questions:

  1. A day centre for women and children experiencing homelessness in Manchester
  2. A more trauma-informed and preventative approach across services in Manchester, particularly around women who have had (or are at risk of having) children removed
  3. An increased awareness of the different ways in which women experience homelessness in Manchester

WHIG’s ‘Give the Mum a Chance’ petition is being circulated, please consider signing if you agree that the above questions are necessary and would like to contribute to the impact and weight of the campaign.

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