The number of homeless women in Croydon, many of them forced to sleep rough, is on the increase according to the annual report from Nightwatch, the charity which provides food and support for some of the borough’s most vulnerable people.
Jad Adams, the chair of the homelessness charity, revealed the latest figures last week at Nightwatch’s annual meeting.
Adams explained that it has been usual for many years for Nightwatch to see the proportion of women at 1 in 10 among those coming to Nightwatch’s meeting point in Queen’s Gardens for food at night.
It was possible to test this one night, because the Christmas presents which were distributed in December were separated into male and female packages. Volunteers distributed 76, of which 11 were to women. That is 14 per cent and supports anecdotal evidence and information from other charities that the proportion of women among homeless people is increasing.
“The increase in women attending our service merits further investigation as women had previously had some apparent immunity to the worst depredations of homelessness,” Adams said. “Women have usually been better at getting places to live and at staying put when they have them. They seem to be less well-protected now, so we see more women coming to use our services.”
Homeless Link, another charity, has reported a 6 per cent increase in young women using their services. CHAIN (Combined Homelessness and Information Network) reports 14 per cent of people sleeping rough are now female.
“This may be connected to the ending of ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancies’ which is driving homelessness in the borough as landlords rush to redevelop their properties and either sell them or let to more prosperous tenants, putting them out of reach of Nightwatch clients who are low waged or living on benefits,” Adams said.
“People who may have been good tenants and were up to date with the rent can be evicted with a notice period of two months with no justification.”
Nightwatch is this year commemorating 40 years of voluntary work with homeless and otherwise vulnerable people in the borough.
The charity is holding a conference in September called “Meeting the challenge of homelessness” and is actively seeking sponsorship from businesses and other organisations.
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