Many London hostels for homeless people do not recognise sexual or domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse or involvement in prostitution as important in assessing female residents’ needs, finds a new survey by the Lilith Project.
The largest percentage of referrals to hostels in the study were by social services.
The survey of hostel provision for women in London, published today, highlights a disturbing lack of awareness by homelessness service providers of how to address the needs of women affected by violence, says Lilith.
92 per cent of hostels responding to its questionnaire had no policies on violence against women.
Female hostel residents facing harassment from male residents were not considered to be in need of protection, according to the survey. It also found most hostels did not refer women to specialist services for support about experiences of violence.
“Homelessness for women is frequently a result of past or present experiences of violence and abuse and it is shocking that hostel provision rarely reflects this fact,” said Maddy Coy, Lilith project manager.
The survey was sent to 330 mixed gender hostels and ten per cent returned completed forms.
Coy is calling for a training programme for hostels on providing effective support for women who have experienced violence. Lilith is part of the charity Eaves Housing for Women and works to raise awareness of violence against women.