Homelessness and motherhood


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We've talked a lot about the specific challenges that homelessness poses for women, and how difficult they can be to overcome. But one of the things that often goes unexplored and therefore not fully understood, is the impact that homelessness can have on those women who are mothers.

As another Mother’s Day comes and goes, in this week’s blog, we’re taking a look at some of the additional trauma and difficulty associated for those women who are facing homelessness as mothers. 

Homelessness and motherhood - the various situations

There are a number of possible scenarios that might lead to mothers experiencing homelessness. 

It might be that someone is trying to find a settled and secure place to call home, constantly worried about seeking help for fear of the stigma, shame and what will happen to their children. It could also be that someone is classed as ‘single homeless’, when in fact they actually have children who may have been removed into the care system or who are living with family members.

There’s also the possibility that a person might be in the middle of active care proceedings, with their hopes being that their children remain in, or return to, their care.

Whatever the situation, the provision of any support must take into account the individual circumstances of each woman, to ensure that the cycle of homelessness can be broken. 

What puts women at risk of homelessness?

There are a number of reasons for why women find themselves at risk of homelessness. Past trauma and domestic abuse to name just a couple. Add to this some of the societal inequalities still in existence, meaning that women tend to be more likely to:

  • Work in lower paid jobs.
  • Be less secure in their employment.
  • Have responsibilities than involve caring for others - including children.

As a result, many women are worried about just how they’ll cope as the cost of living crisis continues to affect families across the country, and what life will look like as a single parent.

Homelessness and single mothers

According to the single parent charity Gingerbread, 90% of the approximately 1.8 million single parents here in the UK are women

Previous research has shown that single mothers are disproportionately affected by homelessness, with an 88% increase in the number of women living in temporary accommodation in the last decade alone, and nearly one in three single mothers facing a daily battle just to keep a roof over their children’s heads. 

A tailored approach

For many women, the added stress of wondering how they’ll keep their children safe, warm and fed, in addition to doing the same for themselves, is a heavy burden to carry alone. The problem is that many women don’t seek the support they need for fear that their children will be removed from their care.

For those who have had their children removed already, the trauma and grief that such a process can cause is unimaginable - whether their children are with foster or adoptive parents, or with extended members of their own family. For many, it can exacerbate existing challenges, such as poor mental health and alcohol and substance abuse.

Mothers facing homelessness are another stark example of what we’ve always know to be the case; that there isn’t one single example of homelessness. Everybody has their own experiences and their own unique set of circumstances. Ultimately, it can happen to anyone.

At Simon on the Streets, we work closely with those we support. We provide long-term support, taking the time to get to know people better and building relationships based on trust. We also work closely with a number of other charities, to ensure that everyone we work with gets the right support for them.

If you’d like to know more about the work we do and how you can help, all you need to do is get in touch

Further reading:

  1. Women and homelessness: the causes behind the crisis.
  2. Is our social housing system broken?
  3. The incredible Leeds services that help us to make a difference.
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