During the coronavirus outbreak, the infection itself is not the only risk to the safety of women experiencing homelessness.
Before coronavirus, the rates of domestic abuse experienced among women who are homeless was high. Now, the risks that women who are homeless face have been amplified due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The uncertainty and fear felt in the coronavirus outbreak has been exploited and used by perpetrators to further control their victims and stop them from accessing accommodation or support.
Charities across the UK have documented an increased risk of domestic violence for women. In the first 3 weeks of lockdown 14 women were killed in UK due to domestic violence. A national domestic abuse helpline saw their calls rise by 49 percent in the weeks after the lockdown.
With begging no longer a viable option to raise funds, some women are under increased pressure to make money through sex, something that is incredibly risky during the coronavirus outbreak. Access to sexual and reproductive health, as well as appropriate protection, is also harder to access.
For women who are homeless and have no recourse to public funds, they face an uncertain future and fear that the support and temporary accommodation that has been offered to them during the lockdown will be taken away once the pandemic is over.
Last year we received a grant for women's only outreach in Leeds. We have been working in close connection with the Safe Space emergency accommodation for women at St Anne’s Resource Centre to support female clients. We have also been on outreach throughout the city to offer support to women who are hidden and homeless.