Five students from Leeds Beckett University have joined forces with Leeds-based homelessness charity, Simon on the Streets to launch an International Women’s Day campaign.
Working in partnership with the charity to re-name it ‘Simone on the Streets’, the campaign aims to highlight female rough sleepers which are often forgotten.
According to government statistics, 14 per cent of rough sleepers in the UK are women. Studies suggest three in 10 women experience sexual violence while homeless, and nearly one in four female rough sleepers have been sexually assaulted in the past year.
Simon on the Streets advise that 35% of female rough sleepers attribute violent disputes in personal relationships as the reason for them leaving accommodation.
The event management students, Ginni Donaghy, Tina Burns, Emily Priest, Poppy Valentine and Jae Manwaring have arranged a charity event on International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March at bar Fibre, Leeds from 5-10pm. The ticketed event costs £2 and will commence with prosecco on arrival, for the first 50 people so be quick, stories from women affected by homelessness and entertainment including live music, a raffle and a game of ‘feminist bingo’.
Project managing the event, student Ginni Donaghy commented:
“We were tasked with launching a campaign for International Women’s Day and were introduced to Fiona at Simon on the Streets who explained how they care for females on the streets. We’re a group of strong feminists and wanted to hold our campaign in support of the local charity which is solely focused on supporting people who don’t tend to receive support.
“Whilst the evening will highlight an important issue, we want to make sure it is both educational but also a fun evening to ensure guests dig deep and help us raise as much as possible for the charity.”
Simon on the Streets works with local people who are affected by homelessness and rough sleeping in Leeds, Bradford and Huddersfield, and understanding that female rough sleepers are less visible than males, champions the students’ campaign to highlight how women need support too.
Fiona Hobson, admin, communications and volunteer coordinator at Simon on the Streets commented:
“The homeless are often tarnished with the same brush and assumptions made that they end up on the streets having fallen into drink and drug abuse but for women in particular, they are often running away from domestic abuse. They can end up in sex work in exchange for accommodation which is why they aren’t as visible on the streets. Women have the added pressures of dealing with sanitary issues and so we need to support them to get back on their feet in a different way to the males we support.”
Established in 1999 Simon on the Streets is an independent charity which relies solely on sponsorship, fundraising and donations. It offers street-support to individuals who have complex needs and cannot access mainstream services, due to behavioural issues or mental illness.
The students aim to raise £300 for the charity to continue its work.