Manchester-based charity, Embassy, want to help women facing homelessness rebuild their lives, reports the Manchester Evening News.
When Sarah found the strength to leave her abusive partner she was at a complete loss of what do to next. She didn’t have access to the internet, and when she tried booking into a women’s hostel she was told she would need to name her abuser – something she was too frightened to agree to. Sarah, which isn’t her real name, eventually found herself a place at a mixed sex shelter – where she finally felt safe. But as a result of her vulnerability, she was groomed by a man posing to be her friend. He went on to rape her.
Terrified and exhausted, she felt her last option was to sleep on the streets of Manchester – a place where she quickly realised she was even more vulnerable. With nowhere else to turn, Sarah went back to the women’s hostel and agreed to name her abuser, leaving her in constant fear of how he might retaliate. After being placed on a waiting list for 15 months, she was finally given a council property and re-united with her two children. But the battle to get what she deserved left her broken.
It was after hearing Sarah’s traumatic story that Emmalee O’Brien, a Women’s Support and Resettlement Manager at homeless charity Embassy, knew something needed to change. Having been a victim of a domestic violence as a child, she understands how important it is for women like Sarah to have a place that is truly safe when feeling abusive relationships. She is now championing a project with Embassy to buy two properties, where they hope to permanently house four women, as well as providing them with the support they’ll need to obtain full-time work, and eventually save enough money to buy a property of their own.
Set up by husband and wife Sid and Tess Williams, Embassy started with a repurposed tour bus that was once used by the likes of Coldplay and Snow Patrol, to provide shelter for homeless men in the city. But when coronavirus hit, that option wasn’t safe anymore. Instead, the couple decided to buy properties and become landlords for homeless people looking to resettle – cutting out the ‘middle man’ of shelters. The charity’s resettlement workers offer six hours a week of vital training in shopping, cooking, budgeting and home management, in the hope to give people the start they need to rebuild their lives.
To help women like Sarah, the charity have now announced they are launching a female version of Embassy, which will look to provide the same concept to women in the city as they do for men. “There is very little provision for homeless women in Greater Manchester,” Emmalee said. “There are shelters but many of them come with risks and are problematic for women. We want to offer women a place they flourish. Currently you have to go as far as Liverpool to find another place like this.”
Many women become homeless as a result of fleeing abusive relationships, and Embassy want to reflect this by providing apartments that both are quiet and private, so that women can feel safe. “To be able to do that we will have two bedroom apartments with two women in each,” she said. “This stops the risks of friction and keeps it private. We house them from day one and help them find full-time employment. Then we want to help them save and get their own place.”
“We have got everything ready and the city is so ready. The issue now is getting financial support. I’ve met women who are ready and waiting for this. The women of Manchester are ready for this.”