Written by Sense Reporter

Too often services are failing to address the problems faced by women sleeping rough or in invisible homelessness conditions. According to Alexia Murphy (Director at St Mungo’s) “Women make up 26% of people who accessed homelessness services in 2013, which in real numbers is around 10,000 people. This MKS Room was the opening event of the Sense Cause dedicated to Homelessness in UK

Why female homelessness ? Why now? Why in London? What do we want?

At the sharpest end of homelessness, 786 women were recorded sleeping rough in London last year”. The overall number of people recorded sleeping rough has risen by 37% since 2010 and the exact number seems to be much higher.
We also know that “there are high levels of vulnerability within the female homeless population – mental ill-health, drug and alcohol dependencies, childhoods spent in care, experiences of sexual abuse and other traumatic life experiences are all commonplace” (Crisis.org). With the extra cuts in welfare happening now, this can only get worse for all involved.

To speak about it, we invited :

Sharon Poon – The Marylebone Project is the largest hostel in the United Kingdom for women affected by homelessness. Sharon runs the social enterprise arm which consists of Space in Marylebone (facilities management) and Munch in Marylebone (catering). It involves some serious stuff (internal & external marketing, strategic planning, budgeting, working with external partners) and some fun stuff (taste testing, baking). In April 2015, Sharon became the Centre Manager which involves running the operations of the Day Centre for rough sleepers. She is responsible to run activities programme and developing more employment opportunities for service users. She creates partnership opportunities with external stakeholders for fundraising and volunteering.
More info at www.churcharmy.org.uk/madeinmarylebone

Faye Shields – Faye is the founder of Unseen Tours an award-winning, not-for-profit social enterprise that offers alternative walking tours through London’s most vibrant and interesting neighbourhoods, with homeless and formerly homeless guides. Each guide takes visitors through a different area of London, showing both famous landmarks and hidden gems off-the-beaten track, with their own distinctive styles, and sharing their own stories and views of homelessness. As a social enterprise, the guides receive 60% of the ticket sales. The remaining 40% is reinvested into a common kitty out of which the guides also receive their monthly travel and mobile phone-top ups, meaning that, in real terms, they get around 80% of total ticket revenue.

Alisha Kadir – Alisha Kadir is a Birmingham based artist, making spaces for thought and writing music to incite softest revolution there ever was.

Ben Tannahill – Ben is an acoustic guitarist from south west London who delivers progressive folk with verve and melody – looking to surprise and delight.