15,000 women in NSW were counted as homeless in the 2016 Census. A few sleep rough in visible places, but most remain UNSEEN as they ‘couch surf’ with friends and family until they wear out their welcome, sleep in their cars, sleep rough in hidden locations or stay in other temporary and unstable situations. Some women remain in a home with violence and are not counted as homeless. UNSEEN aims to raise awareness of women’s homelessness. More information is on the UNSEEN website which you can also access through WEL.
The first event of UNSEEN was held from 8 March, International Women’s Day, to 14 March, at Circular Quay. This month’s event was a chrome-wrapped car (so that it is unseen, like a mirror), with photos of women who had experienced/were experiencing homelessness in transparent film in the windows. The installation highlights the invisibility of women who sleep in their cars. We had an excellent response from the public, with lots of people stopping to look and discuss women’s homelessness. They included women who had experienced homelessness and housing problems themselves both recently and in the past, often due to domestic violence and/or being unable to afford high private rents.
We had some great support from sponsors and from volunteers who helped by spending time with Belinda at the installation to interact with passers-by and so Belinda could take a break. We also had some excellent media interest, including this on Nine news which was the second most read on their site on International Women’s Day read here
The next UNSEEN event will be held from 11-16 April in Martin Place and we expect it will include the little house as well as the car. It will also include more activities and we will be setting up a roster of people who are willing to spend between 2 and 4 hours there to provide support to the project.
We are asking WEL members to volunteer to help with this. Timeslots will be 8.30am-12.30pm, 12-2pm, 12.30-3.30pm and 3-6.30pm, although of course you are welcome to come for longer! Please register here
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