Basis Yorkshire a local Leeds charity that works with indoor and street-based sexworkers and young people who are sexually exploited has been awarded from Homeless Link’s Ending Women’s Homelessness grants programme, funded by the Government’s Tampon Tax Fund.
Basis Yorkshire is one of 29 charities across England, working with women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to receive a grant. Almost 200 organisations applied for a portion of the £1.85 million pot.
Women’s homelessness is a significant national issue with many women having experienced violence and abuse contributing to their homelessness. Over 640 women sleep on our streets every night[ii] and thousands more do not have access to a safe or suitable home leaving them vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Homeless Link’s grants programme aims to help end women’s homelessness by building capacity for gender- and trauma-informed services and developing partnerships between homelessness and specialist women’s sector charities.
Building on Basis Yorkshire’s award winning Housing First model, now being adopted across areas of the UK and recognised by the Fawcett Society as best practice, the funding will be used to create systemic change to address the ‘hidden homelessness’ of sex workers with complex needs in Leeds. The ‘Housing Challenge’ approach will ensure a gender specific, trauma-informed approach across services, sensitive to the needs of sex workers, and reducing their vulnerability to exploitation in the city. Basis will work closely with statutory and third sector partners to improve women’s ability to secure safe and stable homes, identifying trends, blockages and adapting & reconfiguring pathways with partners. This housing “champion” will also facilitate peer research, sharing women’s stories and building capacity within the housing sector to respond compassionately and effectively to women selling sex. The project will contribute to the wider work of Women’s Lives Leeds in ensuring that women receive support where they want, in the way they want, ensuring that marginalised women’s health and wellbeing is central in Leeds’ vision for a healthier city.
The grantees were chosen by a cross-sector, all-woman panel, including women with lived experience of homelessness.[iv]
Gemma Scire (CEO Basis Yorkshire) comments: “We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this grant, offering additional flexibility and capacity to address the housing needs of female sexworkers systemically, building on our expertise developed under our Housing First program to ensuring frontline staff can support women more effectively. We look forward to working closely with all our partners such as Women’s Lives Leeds including the women we work with to embark on this exciting initiative.”
Sally Egan of Women’s Lives Leeds comments: “We are delighted that Basis have been awarded funding to advance the great work they are already doing in this area. The other partner organisations of Women’s Lives Leeds look forward to working with Basis to develop our understanding of how best to support women experiencing homelessness. Together, we can build on the growing momentum around Housing for Vulnerable Women in Leeds and help empower women and girls throughout the city.”
Homeless Link’s Assistant Director of Practice and Partnerships, Tasmin Maitland adds: “Women’s homelessness is a growing crisis. Despite this, women who are homeless or at risk of homelessness are one of the most marginalised groups in our society and the specialist support that they need is often lacking or non-existent.
“We are delighted to be able to award BasisYorkshire a grant that will have a real impact on the support that women experiencing homelessness in Leeds receive, and ultimately contribute to ending women’s homelessness for good.”
[iv] The all-women panel for Homeless Link’s Ending Women’s Homelessness Fund included:
- Amanda Dubarry, CEO, Caritas Anchor House and Homeless Link board member (Chair of the panel)
- Gudrun Burnet, Group Lead on Domestic Abuse, Peabody
- Selina Hanley, Woman with lived experience
- Polly Neate, CEO, Shelter
- Nicki Norman, Acting CEO, Women’s Aid
- Tabitha O’Brien Butcher, Partnership Manager, Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM)
- Jemima Olchawski, CEO, Agenda
- Laura Seebohm, Executive Director, Changing Lives
- Anne Taylor, Woman with lived experience