Shelter for homeless women to be trialled

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 09:51 18/07/2012

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For the first time in Christchurch, homeless women will have somewhere to sleep at night.

City Missioner Michael Gorman said a women's night shelter would be trialled by the mission this year.

Christchurch welfare agencies had highlighted the ''real need for a women's night shelter'' for many years, he said.

''We feel there is a need out there and it's more dramatic now since the earthquakes,'' he said.

''People have talked about it for long enough, so we have decided to trial it and find out if the anecodotal need is really there.''

A former homeless woman, who was forced to sleep on sand dunes this month, has welcomed the trial and said it would make ''a big difference''.

The woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the shelter was ''needed big time''.

While she was sleeping rough she had seen other homeless women, including a mother who had a 1-year-old baby wrapped up inside her jacket.

''There was nowhere for us to go. Anything would have been better than the street,'' she said.

The shelter's year-long trial is expected to start in late November.

Gorman said many of the city's social services were excited about the trial.

The mission has run a men's night shelter for decades, and he did not know why a similar service was not offered for women.

The men's shelter, which holds 27, had huge demand and every day homeless men would queue up outside to secure a bed, he said.

''There are always men waiting for the shelter and sometimes we have to turn them away with a sleeping bag or big coat.''

He said rough-sleeping was more prevalent among men because vulnerable women often couch-surfed with friends, or those in violent relationships would use women's refuge safe houses.

Gorman said the trial had cost the mission a ''great deal of money'' at a time when it was already under pressure, and it would be a challenge to find funding for the project if it was made permanent.

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- The Press

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