Charity Awards 2024


Supporting women with complex needs in Brighton through intensive, trauma-informed services

SIG-Equinox Brighton Women’s Service (BWS) is the only organisation in the Brighton & Hove area providing residential support for women with high, multiple, and complex needs who have experienced homelessness.

SIG EquinoxThe female-only 18-bed accommodation-based project offers a trauma-informed and recovery-focused programme that promotes independence, resilience, and community engagement.

BWS has transformed from a standard women’s hostel service to an innovative psychologically and person-centred space, specialising in non-clinical therapeutic interventions.

These changes came about through comprehensive engagement and careful analysis of all stakeholders’ feedback to ensure the service delivers the best possible support to residents, built on individual need rather than requiring people to fit within a pre-established support framework.

Over time, BWS has learnt that trauma stabilisation is the best therapeutic approach to equip the residents with the tools to manage their trauma in the present so that they can then move past it.

Many of the women supported by the service are seen as a risk in the wider community even though often it was exploitation and other adverse experiences which led them to need support.

In the early stages, BWS’s support programme delved into the reasons why other forms of support have been unsuccessful for the residents and what alternative approaches could be adopted to achieve better results.

It introduced a therapeutic lead to the service and delivered trauma-informed approaches, which is now the foundation of all the support that takes place at BWS.

Since commencing the project in 2018, BWS has supported more than 133 women in their recovery.

Based on its most recent outcomes data for the year to October 2023, 77% of women who are residents in the service reported health improvement on exit; 100% reported increased involvement in the community, local groups, work, and learning; 100% reported a reduction in anti-social behaviour and offending; 72% a reduction in substance use and 80% a reduction in use of unplanned hospital admissions.

Charity Awards judge Farah Nazeer, CEO at Women’s Aid, said: “The agility and adaptability of this programme is really impressive and could set an important precedent for other services. The value-for-money calculations and comparisons are impressive too.

“The vast majority of refuges and safe spaces will not work with people with this level of trauma that they’re describing, because there’s just not that expertise among their staff. It’s very difficult work, very intense, and few people are willing to do it. So it is actually quite innovative and radical.”

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