Daphne: From Street-to-Home: investigating how an integrated approach to housing provision and social support can reduce the threat of violence against women

Who funds the project?

The project is funded by the DG Justice, Daphne III Programme.

What is the project about?

Researchers from five countries across Europe (UK, Germany, Bulgaria, Spain and Norway) will be looking in detail at the support needs of vulnerable women in their countries.

The Daphne From Street-to-Home project addresses the lack of an integrated approach to housing and on-going social support for women at highest risk of being victims of violence. The key target groups will be women who, for the purposes of this project, are referred to as women with multiple needs. This could include:

  • Women experiencing violence and abuse;
  • Women offenders
  • Women with mental health issues;
  • Women engaged in sex work;
  • Women who are members of street gangs;
  • Women with problematic drug use.

It is often the case that women drawn from these groups will have multiple needs i.e. experience of two or more issues from the above list. Implicit within these categories is a lifestyle that includes violence and abuse. For the purposes of this project, we will refer to our target group as ‘women with multiple needs.’ This umbrella term should be recognised as signifying women who are living with, or have experienced, violence and/or abuse at the hands of others.

The project will identify and analyse how expert services that offer joined-up accommodation and social support can be established and operated successfully across the EU, taking into account context-specific environments and cultural differences.

We want to look at ways of increasing partnership working: this could take the form of, for example, housing organisations collaborating more closely with organisations that provide social support resulting in a more joined-up service for vulnerable women. We will be talking to those organisations that arrange and deliver services to women, to identify good examples of where a more joined-up approach has really helped to deliver the services that women with multiple needs require.

What  is our focus?

The project is based on the belief that women who wish to escape the threat of violence and address their often multiple needs, require access to safe and affordable accommodation and accompanying social support in a location away from previous activity and/or affiliations. We contend that the specialist provision of these two requirements is often lacking and wish to explore what is available in partner countries. We also want to investigate the needs of women likely to access such services with a view to identifying best practice and developing guidance in the implementation of national systems of this nature.

Our hypothesis is that a major problem for women with multiple needs is a lack of clear housing pathways accompanied by integrated social support. In order to provide a clear evidence base to inform policy recommendations, the project will test this hypothesis and investigate what does, and does not work, in terms of both service delivery and partnership working.

What have we found out so far?

Our initial conversations with partners have indicated a wide disparity in provision of integrated services. In Bulgaria, for example, such an approach has yet to be considered; in the UK, it is recognised that a combination of multiple needs including homelessness can have a negative impact in terms of re-integrating ex-offenders who have experienced a history of violence and abuse, but this has not yet translated into a formal integration of services.

What does the project hope to deliver?

The principle aim of the project is to develop an evidence base, collect examples of best practice and formulate recommendations to inform policy and practice that will facilitate the establishment of specialised housing and support services to divert women from the threat of violence and abuse. We think it is really important to talk to women and get their views on the problems that they have experienced and the types of support they feel they need.

Beneficiaries of the project will be women in the identified groups who will be diverted from the threat of violence by the establishment of integrated provision that addresses their multiple needs. The project team comprises experts from geographically diverse countries, which will ensure that the findings and recommendations are meaningful to other member states and can be acted upon.

Expected results include: establishing an evidence base to enable policy makers and practitioners to link housing with social support more effectively for vulnerable women; the production of guidelines for the implementation of integrated services that will be grounded in research conducted in the partner countries and, crucially, informed by women who are users of these services.

If you would like to find out more about the project contact Morag MacDonald the project co-ordinater at morag.macdonald@bcu.ac.uk