Ending women’s homelessness- we can do it!

My final meeting in Finland was with the Y Foundation who are coordinating the collaboration project to end women’s homelessness, NEA. Am now in Stockholm, and before I move on to all things Swedish, I thought it would be good to outline exactly how they plan to do this, as it is a model I think we could replicate in the UK.

I outlined the background to their project in a previous blog. Finland is a country with incredible statistics in reducing homelessness, however when split by gender, the statistics for women had seen an increase.

NEA project started this year and they have three years funding from national lottery proceeds which sit under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (approx. 450,000-485,000 Euro per year). This funds an equivalent of 7 full time posts, split across 10 roles. The 10 roles are sitting in agencies that have not all traditionally worked together and some which have not previously had a focus on women. They have been selected based on research on the causes of women’s homelessness and other relevant agencies have also come forward to collaborate. This includes:

  • Women’s housing first units
  • VAWG shelters and crisis centres, including for women from outside Finland
  • Mother and child homes and drug treatment centre, including work with care system and young women
  • Substance use drop in clinic, outreach
  • Support for women prisoners
  • Peer support, outreach and training services
  • An organisation focused on prevention (including housing, finance, work advise)

In keeping with Finland’s housing first approach, the primary goal will be securing housing that women are able to maintain, and hopefully thrive in with the right support. As well as supported units of flats together, they want to explore how a ‘scattered housing’ model could work better for women. Plans also include training for professionals, agreeing new work methods, improving the evidence base and giving a platform to women’s voices within all the work.

I am excited to follow their progress. They have the advantageous starting point of accessible affordable housing, and now a cross-sector project which is boosting the capacity of support services. Key to success will be the role of the coordinating staff at Y Foundation bringing people together with a shared vision that no woman should be homeless. Having met the knowledgeable and passionate team, discussed the complexities involved and dynamics of bringing professionals together, I am really hopeful for this project!

We have some excellent examples of collaboration for women in the UK, for example Agenda, DAHA, the Ascent Project, and in London I manage a housing collaboration and co-run the Women’s Outreach Network and VAWG and Housing Group. Some of the networks are already there, however with a focused and funded programme that built capacity in agencies known to be at the root of women’s homelessness (including prevention with young women), we too could work to end women’s homelessness.



Meeting the Y Foundation Team working on the NEA project (alongside Guddy from DAHA, another Churchill Fellow who visited and provided a weekend of Finnish hospitality in her family home outside Helsinki-thank you G!)