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The TARA project research findings now published

6 December 2013

Social services must overcome multiple challenges to reach 'invisible' homeless women

Social services must overcome multiple challenges to reach 'invisible' homeless women

The high prevalence of complex and gendered-related issues affecting the lives of homeless women makes it important for social workers to build meaningful and trusting relationships with this hard-to-reach group. Homeless women "are used to making themselves invisible in order to survive" and many barriers currently prevent them from accessing the services they need. But when homeless women feel valued and listened to, they are able to begin to take control of their own lives.

These new findings come from the Bristol TARA project, a longitudinal study of the service use and needs of homeless women led by Dr Emma Williamson at the University of Bristol. Interviews over 18 months with a group of homeless women aged 19 to 59 confirmed their ongoing struggle to survive the impact of a large number of traumatic, and often gender-related, life events. These included experience of childhood abuse, mental health problems, domestic or sexual violence, drug or alcohol dependencies, sex work and involvement with the criminal justice system. More than half the women reported having at least six of these problem areas to deal with and their experiences contributed to the multiple service needs they identified. The research team interviewed 38 women initially, 28 women six months later and 22 at a third and final interview. Information was collected from various sources about participants who dropped out of the research.

Read the full summary findings document The TARA Project: A longitudinal study of the service needs of homeless women.


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