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8 December, 2023
News Story

A day in the life of a Women’s Support Worker

The 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence runs from 25 November (Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls) to 10 December (World Human Rights Day) each year.

Your Place take women’s development and safety seriously. We have specialist team members working with women to make sure they feel safe and secure as they begin their journey moving on from homelessness.

Bella is a Women’s Support Worker, and shares how she is helping women move on from homelessness and find themselves again.

When I arrive, I’ll sort out my emails and schedule for the day. I need to have some flexibility, as a big part of my role is advocating for the women at Your Place, and I’ll need to accompany residents to appointments. Recently I’ve helped out with appointments relating to physical and mental health, to ensure women get the support they need.

Part of the process of helping women move forward is assisting with things that people probably don’t think of when they think of homelessness. For example, women who have experienced homelessness tend to need support rebuilding their self-esteem, after difficult experiences and relationships. Part of my role can be doing small things to help this, such as going shopping with them or helping with general upkeep of their living space. Having our 1-2-1 keywork sessions in a coffee shop, where there is good privacy, can be a good way of helping residents feel at ease.

Many issues residents face are the same, regardless of gender, but as a woman I feel that I can empathise with some of the issues exclusive to women. Even issues that men also experience can make a woman extra vulnerable, such as language barriers. For some women who live here, English isn’t their first language, so I often support with reading and responding to important emails.


Although we have assessments to do and structures regarding their move-on, I make sure that we are having conversations as people too, instead of just as resident-key worker. For instance, one woman I work with had not used substances for a whole day for the first time in a long time, so we went for a coffee to celebrate. Knowing that we’ve got their back both when they make progress and when they come across challenges is important in building trust.

Through all the positive actions, we also have to address the stigmas that come with homelessness for women. Their self-esteem can be low if they’re coming out of abusive relationships or situations, and there is a lot of stigma around sex work and drug use, which some women experience, so getting them the help they need can be challenging until they trust us enough to talk openly. For others, they are really keen to see their kids who they’ve been separated from, so we’re working with their networks too to make sure they’re safe.

I’ve had situations whereby a woman, who is a survivor of serious violence, didn’t want to go to the police because so many systems have failed her already. Moving forward becomes more difficult when you have to describe the crimes over and over again in court.

As a key worker, I have to be there to listen with an open heart; people caught up in cycles of trauma often don’t feel that their lives are worth more than that. An important part of my role is to help our residents to believe that they deserve to live the life they want.

Earlier this week, Your Place were delighted to welcome Hestia, the domestic abuse support service, for a day of informal conversations with residents. As part of the 16 Days of Activism, their brilliant team had a stand in our lounge for anyone to come and chat confidentially about issues such as forced marriage and domestic abuse. Referrals were made from these conversations, ensuring that women living at Your Place have access to the right services for them.

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