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Jon Rosser, Chair of the Single Homeless Project, on the systemic undercounting of women experiencing homelessness

In this eye-opening episode of the Do One Better Podcast, Alberto Lidji sits down with Jon Rosser, Chair of the Single Homeless Project, to delve into the pressing issue of homelessness in the UK, with a particular focus on the systemic undercounting of women experiencing homelessness.

Key Discussion Points:

Introduction to SHP:

  • The Single Homeless Project operates in London, supporting homeless individuals or those at risk of homelessness.

  • Founded by a group of homeless people 40 years ago, SHP has grown to support over 10,000 individuals annually with a dedicated staff of 700.

Current State of Homelessness in the UK:

  • Despite various interventions, homelessness numbers are rising due to housing shortages, affordability issues, and inadequate social housing.

  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic showed that it is possible to house everyone if the will and resources are available.

Gender Disparity in Homelessness Counts:

  • Traditional counting methods underreport the number of homeless women, who often avoid streets due to vulnerability and safety concerns.

  • A new gender-informed approach reveals a much higher number of homeless women, many of whom resort to dangerous alternatives to sleeping on the streets.

Challenges Faced by Homeless Women:

  • Many homeless women face domestic violence, mental health issues, and the need for safe, gender-specific accommodation.

  • There is a significant gap in the support services provided to these women, who often fall through the cracks of traditional systems.

Policy Implications and Recommendations:

  • The need for more accurate counting methods and gender-aware policies to ensure homeless women receive adequate support.

  • Advocacy for increased women-only accommodations and better safety measures in mixed facilities.

  • Encouraging local authorities and philanthropists to invest in resources for a comprehensive homeless count and support services.

About Jon Rosser

Jon spent many years working in social housing, initially for London Boroughs and then for Housing Associations. He was Chief Executive of Town and Country Housing Group and for Westward Housing Group. He is a passionate believer in the importance of affordable housing for the many people who need support in Britain’s housing market.

Then after a period running his consultancy firm, Jon began working overseas for VSO, Save the Children, and then for 8 years as Chief Executive of World Child Cancer supporting children and families facing cancer in low and middle income countries.

Jon also has extensive non-executive experience, as Chair of Gateway Housing Association and for the last 4 years as Chair of the Single Homeless Project, one of London’s leading charities supporting rough sleepers and the single homeless. Recently Jon has joined the Board of Turning Tides, a homeless charity in Sussex where he now lives.

Jon has one daughter, and has recently become passionate learning to be organic on his allotment.


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