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Esther Sample

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Esther Sample

Job description: Women's Strategy Implementation Manager at St Mungo's

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Areas of interest: Housing and homelessness – services for women with complex needs

Esther Sample's Recent Activity

"The Chrysalis Project is a joint enterprise between Commonweal Housing, St Mungo’s and Lambeth Council. It provides high-quality accommodation and support for homeless women involved in street prostitution in South London."
Reply To: Women involved in prostitution*

"One resident's view: 'Women experiencing homelessness need different support depending on their experiences, but I think the key factor to move towards training/employment is regaining self-belief. You need to believe you can do it and want to make a change. I have lived in a shelter and am now in employment as an apprentice project worker at St Mungo’s, after being supported by their employment team. They helped me build my confidence up and look at different options open to me. They listened to my opinions and took them on board, and helped me see which paths were realistic and possible, supporting me the whole way through. They key thing is that the staff listened- staff understanding is even more important than the structure of what is provided. In my experience group activities can be really beneficial in building confidence such as sports and games to give a feeling of achievement and a chance to bond with other women. I think in some shelters there are not enough activities or they can be inconsistent. Women really look forward to them and if they are cancelled at the last minute this is very disappointing. Even having table tennis, board/computer games can help people to relax and bond if they don’t have much money to go out. When I first moved into a shelter I made a plan for myself that I would keep busy. It was a really hard time settling into a new environment, but I made a list of all the social and employment things I might do and this kept me focussed. I found a volunteering role in a charity shop and this kept me in the routine of getting up and going to work. For the evenings I looked at websites with free social activities and also tried to keep busy writing and going to parks and museums. My advice to other women would be to have a personal strategy in place from early on so you don’t get used to just staying in your room. I have seen from other women that the longer you are inactive, the more likely you are to go further into depression and the harder it will be to pull out of it.'"
Reply To: Skills and Employment

"As part of St Mungo's Women's Strategy, in July 2013 we worked in partnership with a range of organisations in the Homeless Employability Network to hold a women's employment and training fair at South London YMCA's Conference Centre. The fair was set up following discussions at the network about ETE services in the homelessness sector being generally male dominated. The event was open to women accessing homeless services across London and was attended by around 80 women, who had the opportunity to network with employers and training providers as well as attend skills workshops. Stalls included Marriot Hotels, Women in Construction, KPMG and City Lit. Popular workshops included self employment by St Mungo's and assertiveness and self esteem by Eaves. One woman said of the day: ‘I thank everybody for today, I have been made happy today’, and others commented: ‘I was able to look at setting up my own business and how achievable it may be’ and ‘I liked that it was aimed at women specifically’."
Reply To: Skills and Employment

"Feedback received from a London Complex Needs Worker: 'In London as far as I'm aware there are two Housing Benefit funded male only treatment centres (ODAAT and Acorn House). There is currently nothing like that for women. This means that women have to go through the funding panel for mixed/ female only treatment, which is more of a rigorous process and more lengthy. If our clients are able to sustain abstinence within the community via attending pre treatment groups and access our support having housing benefit funded treatment centres would really reduce the length of waiting time and stress on the client. The referral to the Substance Misuse Team is out of our hands as treatment providers have to make this referral. The number of hoops our clients have to jump through in my opinion is excessive for referral. The Treatment model for residential is pretty generic as it is anyway, and is difficult for our more entrenched clients to fit in, more complex needs residential settings are expensive and not on the contracts list in most areas. Making the pathway a little easier and accessible for treatment in general would make a massive difference.'"
Reply To: Substance use: helping women with drug and alcohol problems

"St Mungo's with pro-bono support from the global law firm DLA-Piper, have produced a legal guide on homelessness and access to children as part of our Women's Strategy (document attached)."
Reply To: Children and families: improving support


St Mungo's held a Rebuilding Shattered Lives members event on domestic abuse, sexual violence and women’s homelessness on Tuesday 16th October. The event was attended by practitioners from domestic/sexual violence agencies, homelessness services and other related sectors. A summary of feedback from the group work session is attached.

Reply To: Prevention and recovery from domestic abuse and sexual violence

"Domestic abuse – evidence from a St Mungo’s report on why people still end up rough sleeping. In 2011 St Mungo’s published a report Battered, Broken, Bereft – why people still end up rough sleeping. One of the findings in this report was about domestic abuse. Women only account for 19% of our residents who have slept rough, however, the proportion of women for whom domestic abuse led directly to rough sleeping was very high. When these women needed protection and a place to be safe there was no help available and they were forced to sleep on the streets. We found from our client needs survey that: • 35% of women who have slept rough left home to escape domestic abuse • Women made homeless by domestic violence who slept rough on average had more support needs than those who avoided rough sleeping. Please do read more in the report here: http://www.mungos.org/documents/7269.pdf"
Reply To: Domestic abuse and sexual violence

"Interesting Bristol University review of the Women's Night Service, a six-month pilot project that provided emergency accommodation to vulnerable homeless women: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/sps/research/projects/completed/2010/rj5274/"
Reply To: Housing and homelessness – services for women with complex needs