Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

The vulnerabilities of lone woman migrants- and how we are working with them

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The vulnerabilities of lone woman migrants- and how we are working with them

23rd November 2021
Read more about how we are working with residents like Bitania who has had such a traumatic journey to the UK.

Lone woman migrants are some of the most vulnerable people in the world. An estimated half of all migrants around the world are women and girls- around 125 million people. Increasingly women are making the difficult decision to escape dangerous environments and set off on long and treacherous journeys by themselves. Lone woman migrants are particularly at risk of experiencing sexual exploitation, trafficking and violence. According to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime women and girls account for 71% of all human trafficking. When women and girls are displaced by conflict they face additional vulnerabilities, as chaos ensues and protection systems typically break down, meaning that perpetrators can exploit the situation, abusing often with impunity in overcrowded refugee camps and poorly lit public toilets. Many lone women migrants also experience double discrimination due to their gender and migrant status, often meaning they suffer mistreatment in workplaces, difficulty seeking housing, using public transportation and accessing health services.

Bitania, who is staying at our Core Hostel, escaped from her home country as she feared for her safety being around her family. Here she describes the dangers she faced as she made the dangerous journey through Africa and then Europe;

“I escaped my home country with the only person I could trust which was my Aunty. We then had to separate as the government in Ethiopia ordered me to leave. I then travelled to Sudan by myself- it was an incredibly dangerous time to be there as the country was in Civil War. I couldn’t go out at night, I remember being all alone in a refugee camp fearing my safety every night. I eventually made it to Europe, but I experienced a lot of abuse and violence at the Turkish Greek border. I was stopped ten times trying to get over the Turkish border to Greece, each time I was caught I was thrown in prison and I was beaten and treated terribly. It eventually took me ten months to get into Greece, but I luckily managed to on the tenth attempt. I remember the relief when I arrived here, it had been such a long journey and there were many moments where I was in real danger”

Luckily, Bitania is now safe at Caritas Anchor House, and we are working with her to get her in work and find her own home to live in.

“When I eventually arrived in the UK I was so emotionally exhausted. I didn’t know anyone here and didn’t speak good enough English or have the right skills to get a job. Luckily I got referred to Caritas Anchor House. Since being here I’ve noticed myself waking up with a smile. I feel happy and safe here now. They are giving me lots of help to get back into work - I have English classes twice a week and Maths classes once a week. There is always someone here that I can check a job application or my CV with. At the moment I am looking for any job, whether it is working in a hotel, being a waitress at a restaurant. I don’t really mind what job I do, I just want to run my life now. With the help that I am getting with my job applications and the fact I am feeling much happier- I now feel that anything is possible. I cannot wait for that first opportunity to work in the UK which I will grab with both hands. Without Caritas Anchor House this wouldn’t have been possible."

Amanda Dubarry, Chief Executive of Caritas Anchor House reflects on this:

“Lone Women and girls migrating around the world are being cruelly and unfairly discriminated against as they make dangerous journeys away from conflicts, natural disasters and situations where they are in danger. Most of us here in the UK could not imagine the suffering they have to experience. All they want is to be somewhere where they know they can sleep safely. We’re delighted to be working with Bitania and many other female migrants in providing them with a safe space and being a platform for them to live independently here in the UK.”

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