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Five weeks with Housing for Women

Read about the experiences of one of our student interns who spent five weeks working about Housing for Women last summer.

 

I’ve been writing this post for what seems like forever, and I fittingly completed it on International Women’s Day!

Last year I applied for an internship through the Student Hubs Social Impact Internship Scheme and upon being accepted, I was placed as a social housing intern with Housing for Women.

Housing for Women is an organisation who, to quote their website, work to empower women through providing good homes and services and challenging inequalities faced by women.

I was on the supported housing desk, hence my official title being supported housing intern, where I was given various tasks, including completing research to update the business plan, meeting with service users to create case studies for fundraising purposes and over-the-phone surveys to analyse the efficiency with which the organisation is running and the impact it is having on its users.

Working for such an organisation and on this desk specifically was as much emotionally draining as it was and incredibly eye-opening experience.

During my first week I spent most of my time undergoing research, a flowery way of saying finding out just how disadvantaged women are in a developed, and seemingly progressive, country. To compare recent statistics (2013-15) to 2000-2012 and realise that most of the change is on a scale of very little to none was depressing. And to then think of all the cuts being made to women’s organisations, specifically domestic violence services, I feel helpless in having time to do nothing more than offer solidarity to all these women affected. It could affect any one of us [women] at any point and the lack of services to fall back on is astonishing, the services that are surviving are vital and are increasingly being put under pressure.

The women I was so lucky to meet, whose stories I would love to share but respectfully will not, could not stress enough how crucial a role Housing for Women played in building them to bounce back from their experiences – be it through providing safe housing, essential support or just being there at a difficult time. These women offered nothing but praise towards their support workers, and their support workers offered them nothing but praise because “[our] roles cannot be fulfilled without being met by the efforts and determination of these strong women.” but the women insisted it was more the tireless efforts of their support worker.

This praise was often sung by women I surveyed over the phone, who placed emphasis more on the support they receive from staff than the quality of housing itself – though they were equally grateful for both.

It was through this internship at Housing for Women that I saw first-hand how great a job women’s services are doing, and how crucial it is to advocate for the saving of these services. Their decreasing number can only help a limited amount of women to do so in a manner that truly positively impacts them.

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