Good news for women experiencing homelessness 

By Jill Dando News

Partners across Bournemouth, Christchurch, and Poole have united to support local women experiencing homelessness.

They have worked together over the last six months to find new ways to support women experiencing rough sleeping in the local area. 

Partners, including BCP Council and St Mungo’s participated in an innovative new scheme to better identify women experiencing homelessness in the local area.
Women are likely to not be counted in regular outreach work due to them not feeling safe rough sleeping on the streets.

As a result, this means that services and solutions may not do enough to help support women find suitable, permanent homes. 

The Women’s Rough Sleeping Census was a pilot scheme, carried out in autumn 2023, and BCP took part along with a number of other local authority areas.


The local Homelessness BCP partnership were keen to be involved, being aware that women rough sleep and experience hidden homelessness in ways that often differ to men, and that cases can often be masked and missed from rough sleeping verification and data as a result. 

The results of the census showed that a much larger number of women were experiencing rough sleeping in BCP than original data suggested.

The census showed that due to safety or vulnerability concerns, women are more likely to walk around all night, spend time on the bus, sofa surf and/or visit drop in spaces to avoid spending time on the street.
However, this means that it is also less likely that they encounter outreach teams and front-line support. 

In order to pivot local services to be more inclusive to women at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, partners have launched a new weekly drop in space at Fusion, in Old Christchurch Lane, for women specifically. 

This new service follows the launch of the Fusion centre in December, which aims to provide increased and more effective support for vulnerable people in the community by bringing together a number of services under one roof. 

The Women’s only drop in space is staffed by a large team who have kindly agreed to volunteer their time, including many from across the partnership services who were involved in the census work.


The team have also been inundated by generous offers from local volunteers and businesses offering therapy, mindfulness sessions, beauty treatments and much more to help make the drop in a positive and supportive experience.

Once established the hope is to be able to occasionally rotate to various locations across BCP to ensure the service reaches as many women as possible. 

‘Women do experience homelessness differently to men, and it is important that we use opportunities to improve our data, like BCP have through the census, to help design solutions that are as inclusive as possible.
It is great to see BCP leading the way and through Homewards, we want to build on this, and find ways to focus more on preventing local women from becoming homeless in the first place.’
– Gemma Mcdonald, Local Delivery Lead for Homewards BCP