International Women’s Day 2024: The stats and the stories

International Women’s Day, falling every year on the 8th March, is an important opportunity to reflect and highlight the challenges faced by women who experience homelessness and poverty. It’s also a great chance to celebrate the strength and resilience of many women who have overcome adversity to start rebuilding their lives.

The stats

  • 15% of rough sleepers in the UK are female. On a typical single night in 2023, 568 people sleeping rough were female. This is a 22% increase compared to the previous year.¹
  • However, the numbers above are a likely underestimate as women with no fixed abode are more hidden, so may not be fully captured by the statistics. According to Shelter, ‘fear of sexual and physical violence means women will do anything to avoid bedding down on the streets, such as spending the night on buses.
  • Women make up 60% of all homeless adults in temporary accommodation in England. The number of women living in temporary housing has nearly doubled in the last ten years
  • Across women experiencing homelessness, 74% have a physical health issue and 64% face mental health issues. Women who experience homelessness are at least three times more likely than women in the general population to have mental health issues.²
  • 43 is the average age of death for women facing homelessness in the UK. The average life expectancy is 83
  • One in every 38 lone mothers in England is homeless, making this group one of the hardest hit by homelessness.²
  • 76% of people accessing food support are women. ‘Whether they are older women suffering from loneliness and isolation, single parents with additional caring responsibilities, or simply working mums trying to stretch household budgets to feed their families’, the survey shows that women are being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis.³

The stories

DENS is proud to support women across Dacorum facing homelessness, poverty and social exclusion. Below are just a selection of inspiring stories and quotes from clients who have embarked on journeys towards a positive and independent future.

After becoming homeless, Marie received crucial support from DENS, initially staying at The Elms hostel. Struggling with mental health and family issues, therapy sessions provided were transformative, boosting her confidence and self-esteem. Now offered social housing through the Resettlement service, she looks forward to rebuilding her life, equipped with a positive outlook and newfound determination.

After her husband’s tragic death a few years ago, Rachel, a mother of three, turned to the Foodbank for support. Initially hesitant, she found the experience comforting and appreciated the diverse, nutritious food parcels provided. Despite her efforts to work more, the rising cost of living and unexpected bills make Rachel thankful for the Foodbank’s assistance during desperate times.

Suzie turned to DENS after leaving an abusive relationship and facing homelessness. The Elms hostel provided crucial support, preventing her from sleeping rough. Transitioning to shared accommodation through the Move On service, Suzie worked with her Key Worker to address issues, including outstanding debts and alcohol misuse. She continues to receive support through the Resettlement Service, aiming to return to employment.

Chloe, fleeing her home due to domestic violence, struggled financially and emotionally. DENS’ Foodbank provided essential support, easing her fears and providing much-needed food and toiletries. Grateful for the assistance, Chloe now feels a sense of security and hopes to rebuild her life.


¹ Sourced from the latest Government statistics surrounding homelessness and rough sleeping, showing a snapshot of a typical single night in 2023.
² Sourced from a report published by Single Homeless Project in April 2023.
³ Sourced from survey results published in December 2023 by food waste charity, FareShare.

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