Lotus Sanctuary have houses and apartments across the UK specifically for the purpose of housing our residents, providing them with a stable, safe base and foundation from which to rebuild their path. Our residents suffer from a range of complex issues including (but not limited to) substance misuse, homelessness, domestic violence and sexual exploitation, all with their own set of needs and circumstances.
We firmly believe that everyone deserves to have a safe home and without this, long term, sustainable changes to are extremely hard to implement.
Homes, Not Houses
We are unique in our approach to accommodation with a mixture of different properties ranging from single apartments and smaller, two bedroom properties to larger houses of multiple occupancy. Where we place our residents is determined by their unique situation.
We primarily house single females, as well as mothers with young children. Our family properties are all self-contained, with mothers and their children given ample space in order to grow and bond as a family unit.
Nationwide Supported Housing
Lotus currently have 404 units of supported housing consisting of shared houses and self contained units across the UK. We operate across 19 different councils and seven regions nationwide. All supported accommodation and wraparound support is modelled around our successful initial properties in Wolverhampton, West Midlands.
The accommodation we provide our residents with always includes the essentials. Basic furniture such as a bed, chest of drawers, tables and chairs are provided as well as white goods and appliances including fridge, cooker, toaster & kettle. Furnishing houses with these basic amenities comes at a considerable initial cost which most of our residents are not in a position to cover. We are happy to provide these in a bid to give these individuals the best possible start – always going the extra mile to help.
Domestic Violence Victims
There is a clear and well evidenced link between domestic abuse and homelessness. In 2017, official statistics for England show that 6,850 people were accepted as homeless by their local authority because of a violent relationship breakdown, this accounts for 12% of all homeless applications (Crisis, 2019).
Nations Apart (2014) research found that 61% of homeless females had experienced violence and/or abuse from a partner. Official statistics state in England and Wales alone 1.3 million women experienced domestic abuse in 2017/2018 and on average two women a week die as a result of violence from a current or ex-partner (ONS, 2018).
Accommodation is one of the ‘nine pathways’ officially recognised by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) as key to reducing reoffending for women. It is identified by people who offend as second only to employment in improving their chances of resettlement (HM Government, 2019). Yet women in trouble with the law may find themselves declared intentionally homeless, deemed ineligible for housing, or cut off housing benefit and evicted for rent arrears. Without a home, it is much harder to; get a job or into a training placement, register with a GP and access health care, arrange benefits and to care for children. A lack of suitable housing can be a cause of offending, a homeless woman may commit a crime out of desperation to have a roof over her head (albeit a police station or prison cell). Women in unsuitable accommodation may offend to obtain essential items including food and clothing, often for their children.
60% of women leaving prison are leaving into homelessness. Access to safe, affordable accommodation is commonly identified by women in prison as a top priority for successful resettlement. We recognise that without a home, many women don’t stand a chance and the cycle continues. In response to this demand we created the phoenix project. The project was specifically created to house women leaving prison. We aim to end the cycle of re offending by picking women up at the gates and offering a solution from day one. A Lotus Sanctuary member of staff will pick the resident up on the day of release, take them to all necessary appointments and drop them off to a home, where they’ll met with warmth by a support worker.
Rough sleeping is the starkest form of homelessness and it is often the most vulnerable female survivors who sleep rough following their escape from abuse. Women sleeping rough also experience domestic abuse in their relationships on the streets, where other than ourselves, specialist gender-specific services to address their particular needs are few and far between. Sleeping rough is dangerous for anyone, however women carry the added burden of gender-based violence and abuse before, during, and after their time on the streets. Research by Crisis (2016), the homelessness charity, found 58% of women sleeping rough had been intimidated or threatened with violence and force in the past 12 months compared to 42% of men. Across England 653 women were sleeping rough on any given night (Bretherton,J. Pleace, N. 2017).
Hidden Homeless/Sofa Surfing
Hiding from harm can mean that women are also hidden from help and missing out on homeless services, moreover they are not being counted in official statistics, which are also suspected to be significantly miscalculated/underestimated. Estimates suggest that there are a total of 68,000 homeless women in the UK, with many of them in temporary accommodation or sofa surfing (House of Commons, 2020). These hidden homeless women often carry the same problems or come from the same situations as the women above, but are often forgotten once a very temporary solution is found to their issues.