Anglia Ruskin University
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An exploration of decision making by women experiencing multiple and complex needs

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posted on 2023-08-30, 15:34 authored by Kathryn Hodges
Research indicates that women experiencing multiple and complex needs face barriers to accessing the help and support they need, whether as a result of geographical location, choice of opening hours, childcare support, or a lack of female only provision. As a result women are frequently disadvantaged and their personal safety put at risk through increasing vulnerability to further exploitation, the most notable example being their access to safe and secure accommodation. This study contributes to this literature by seeking to understand what decisions and choices are made by women experiencing multiple and complex needs when seeking support from helping services. This study focuses the attention on the arguably complex and intersecting experiences of women involved in prostitution, showing that they are a result of multiple and severe disadvantage. An in-depth qualitative inquiry was undertaken, applying Bacchi’s (1999) ‘What’s the problem?’ approach (WTPA) from interview preparation through to analysis. This approach brought attention to silences, enabling a pragmatic application of intersectionality and detailed analysis, rather than applying the usual policy-derived framework of needs and experiences. Women talked about caregivers’ behaviour, making decisions about whether to trust them and keep attending a service. Silences were found during the interviews that could be ‘noticed’ and ‘heard’ in a number of ways, bringing significant additional data to what was said by participants, requiring equal attention in analysis to the spoken data. There is a dissonance between framing of women’s needs by policy and services, and women’s lived experiences. This mismatch leads to a complex network of support services that are both difficult for women to access and which fail to meet their needs. This study offers an insight into how women’s needs can be met, taking their voice into account. Suggestions are made for social care services, and training providers, to pay attention to the interactions between caregivers and women seeking help and support. The main contribution of this research draws attention to multiple ways in which ‘need’ can be framed both theoretically and in practice and especially to how silences are noticed and heard.



Anglia Ruskin University

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