The PIE4shelters project aims at improving the capacity of homeless services  to support women with the experience of homelessness and gender-based violence. The project will develop a training guideline for homeless services, based on the PIE approach. PIE stands for Psychologically Informed Environments .Psychologically-informed services take into account the psychological makeup – the thinking, emotions, personalities and past experience - of service users in the way a  service operates (definition PIE link). The PIE4shelters project will also promote a trauma-informed and gender-sensitive way of working.

The main activities and outputs of the project:

  • Develop a PIE training framework, target group are homeless services.
  • Train frontline and management staff working with homeless services in the partner countries HU, BE, IE, IT, UK
  • Organize national awarenes raising events on PIE in partner countries, target group are homeless services

Training and awarenes raising events will be available for free. Related information & dates will be published on this website. You can also contact the project officer Ruth Kasper.

PIE4shelters started on the 1st of January 2018 and will run for 2 years. It is co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship (REC) program of the European Commission. It is implemented by a consortium comprising homeless  and gender-based violence services: BMSZKI- Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy (coordinator, HU), CVFE - Collectif contre les Violences Familiales et l’Exclusion (Belgium), FEANTSA (Belgium/EU), Safe Ireland (Ireland), fio.PSD (Italy) and DePaul (UK). 

 Veuillez aussi visiter la page web du Collectif contres les Violences Familiales et l'Exclusion  dédiée au projet qui contient davantage d'information sur le projet en français.

You find more information about PIE4shelters in Italian  here.




This website was funded by the European Union's Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme (2014-2020). The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of the PIE4shelters project partners and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.



PIE4shelters Guide is ONLINE

After almost 2 years of intense project work, we are happy to announce that the PIE4shelters Guide & Training Framework go online.

The Guide provides hands-on guidance for services who support women with experience of homelessness and GBV. It aims at supporting services to become psychologically, trauma and gender informed environments. The Guide aims at contributing to the improvement of service responses for women who experience(d) homelessness, GBV and GBV-related trauma by enabling services to better respond to women’s needs.

The Guide allows services to learn about the experiences of the project partners who implemented a psychologically and trauma informed approach. Transformation was based on two well established, evidence-based approaches: PIE (Psychologically Informed Environments) and TIC (Trauma Informed Care). The ‘Recommendations for Service Providers’ point out key observations for starting the transition towards psychologically and trauma informed support provision.

Furthermore, the Guide provides a comprehensive collection of resources such as assessment tools to evaluate service provision before starting transition towards psychologically and trauma informed services, staff questionnaires and organisational toolkits, materials which can be used for training and reflective practice as well as relevant research publications and policy documents.

The Guide also contains the PIE4shelters Training Framework which is a series of presentations which services can use to train staff on psychologically, trauma and gender informed service provision.

The English version is now available here. The French, Italian and Hungarian language versions are available in the 'Download’ section on the right.


Valorisation Short Summaries now available - useful key lessons for organisations who want to implement PIE 

PIE4shelters partner conducted interviews with staff who participated in the PIE4shelters trainings and in the whole-organisation-training sessions. The outcomes of the interviews and focus groups, which took place several weeks after the training activities, provide useful insights for service providers who are interested in becoming Psychologically Informed Environments. The Short Summaries are available in the download section on the right. 


Publication Article "Psychologically and Trauma Informed Service Provision – better outcomes for women service users and staff"

The PIE4shelters project is excited about the contribution to the FEANTSA Health & Homelessness Newsletter, edition December 2019. 

The article makes the case for psychologically and trauma informed approaches which strongly contribute to improved outcomes for service users, in particular for women who experience(d) homelessness and Gender-Based Violence as well as for support workers. The key role of staff support such as regular supervision, reflective practice and training is strongly emphasised. Regular training, including refresher trainings, and reflective practice, which at least partially should be facilitated externally, allow staff to develop their understanding of the effects of violence and abuse and related trauma, to improve their response to the needs of service users and  identify and deal with secondary trauma. Staff who regularly support service users who experienced trauma are at increased risk of secondary traumatisation (also referred to as 'vicarious trauma'). 

The article is accessible here.


Joint event with AMA & CVFE in Brussels, December 2019:  Gender-Based Violence and Women's Homelessness: How to Improve Support for Survivors?

One in four homeless people is a woman, who has often been or is the victim of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). How can social workers improve support for this audience? Homeless women who are victims of violence live in complex realities and have and specific support needs.  AMA, the  Federation of Shelters and Homeless Services, the CVFE (Collective against Family Violence and Exclusion) iand FEANTSA jointly organised this half-day event to raise awarness on the relationship between GBV and women's homelessness and disseminate the PIE -  Psychologically Informed Environments -as an approach to improve service reponses to homeless women survivors of GBV. 

The event reached out to support services for homeless women in Brussels and French-speaking Belgium (fully took place in French). Patrick Italiano, University of Liege, provided an analysis of the service experience and trajectories of women who accessed homeless services in the Walloon and Brussels regions and presented data on prevalence of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) among homeless women as well as data trends from recent years. In the second part of the  half-day event, the approx. 60 attendees could learn about Psychologically Informed Environments as an evidence-based approach to improve responses for women who experience(d) GBV and homelessness, presented by CVFE- Collectif contre les Violences familiales et l'Exclusion – a GBV-specialist support service. The afternoon ended with a lively exchange among participants on PIE and how to bring about change in service reponse in a context of limited resources. Several services showed interest in getting their staff trained on PIE.


PIE4shelters at the 'Information & Networking Meeting of REC projects',  June 2019

FEANTSA attended the Information and Networking Meeting Empowerment of women and Combatting gender-based violence, organized by DG Just, on 26 June 2019., on behalf of coordinator BMSZKI and the project partnership.

The event allowed four REC-funded projects to present the project, its rationale, first results and outcomes. FEANTSA project officer Ruth Kasper presented feedback from the participants from the local trainings which evidenced the relevance and usefulness of PIE as a comprehensive framework for staff to make sense of their daily experiences at work. Staff reported an improved understanding of GBV-related trauma and how it manifests in the behaviour of service users. Staff felt empowered to effectively improve support services and service environments and felt capacitated to address the issue of GBV and trauma with clients as shows the following cite from a training participant: 'training gave me the push to bring up the subject’. Staff appreciated they could contribute own knowledge and experience to the training as well as the interactive design of the trainings. Another key outcome of the trainings was the need to stronger involve women service users in the service design and provision as well as the need to provide (more) spaces for GBV survivors to share GBV-related experiences as a gender-specific experience with other women. Training participants felt that the project contributed strongly to building knowledge and know-how on GBV and women's homelessness and how to better support survivors and appreciated the useful exchange between homeless and GBV / women’s services. One of the key insights of the trainings was that organizational change takes time  and that the first series of frontline staff and management trainings were a first step towards change, however, many more are to be done. 

The event was a great opportunity to disseminate the project among European policy makers and other relevant stakeholders who work at European level.

The full presentation is available on the right, see 'dowload section'. 


PIE European Workshop at the FEANTSA policy conference: A gender and psychologically informed approach to tackle women’s homelessness, May 2019

FEANTSA, lead partner on dissemination for the PIE4shelters project, organized a PIE workshop during the annual FEANTSA policy conference which took place in Porto, Portugal, on the 31st May 2019. The workshop was attended by 60 participants from all over Europe, working with homeless services, local authorities, and the European Commission. The number of participants and high level of engagement in the discussion showed the great relevance of the topic of women's homelessness and GBV and the great interest in PIE as an approach that allows to better support homeless women who experience(d) GBV and related trauma.

The workshop was chaired by Boroka Feher from project coordinator BMSZKI, Budapest, an expert on women’s homelessness. Contributions from Tamas Gerencser, the PIE4shelters project coordinator, BMSZKI, Catherine Glew, St Mungo’s, UK, Sophie Hansal, European Women's Lobby / Domestic Abuse Intervention Centre Vienna.

Tamas Gerencser presented experiences and results on informing homeless services through a psychologically and gender-informed approach, sharing  the example of a service that has successfully developed a gender and psychologically-informed approach to tackle women’s homelessness. In particular, he describes how homeless services need to consider the impact of gender-based violence on women in service set-up and delivery. Mr Gerencser shared the experiences from local staff trainings where PIE and trauma sensitive work was experienced as a very helpful framework to better understand the interactions between women service users and staff. The participants of the PIE4shelters training in Hungary showed great interest for the gender sensitive approach promoted by PIE4shelters, in terms of its contribution to tackle and address the specific support needs of women who experience homelessness. Trainings also evidenced a strong need for more reflective practice for staff. Staff also pointed out the need for a stronger involvement of women service users to deliver services in a more gender sensitive way. 

Speaker Catherine Glew from St Mungo’s, UK, described the women’s startegy of St Mungo’s, emphasizing the necessity to run specific services for women. She emphasized the great added value of psychologically- and trauma- informed approaches for improving service provision, such as PIE. PIE allows services to provide a consistent approach involving the whole organization. She emphasized the importance of reflective practice as well as the need for more training on trauma and consequences of trauma for homeless service staff. Her statement ‘trauma is gendered’ points out to a key aspect of GBV-related trauma of women who experience abuse and violence from people they loved and trusted (which also is the major difference to trauma of men). 

Speaker Sophie Hansal from the European Women’s Lobby Observatory provided a framework for the workshop, providing figures on GBV, explaining the relationship between GBV and women’s homelessness and outlining the current service provision for women who exerience(d) homelessness and GBV. She especifically outlined the current lack of shelter and support for women with unclear residency status. A stable housing situation is a key element to provide proper psychological and trauma-informed support. Only a stable housing situation provides ontological security, a condition to recover from trauma.

The detailed worshop report is available on the right ('download section'), including the presentations from speakers Catherine Glew and Sophie Hansal.

You can access the full conference programme here.


PIE4shelters training Guideline draft version is ready

The Guideline allows to provide in-depth training on Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE). The 1-day training sessions will involve frontline and management staff working with homeless services and GBV organizations and will take place in Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, and the UK. The training will allow staff to familiarize themselves with the PIE approach, will contribute to the understanding of gender-based violence and explain how it relates to the homelessness of women. PIE allows to recognise the consequences of trauma and tailor homelessness services for female service users with experience of GBV.

The main objectives of the training are to

  • introduce Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) and the PIE approach,
  • raise awareness of gender-based violence (GBV),
  • recognise the consequences of trauma,
  • tailor homelessness services for a women service users with experience of GBV.

The Guideline allows the partners to provide in-depth training on PIE, guiding participants through the six PIE key elements which are PIE as a psychological framework, how to adapt physical environments and social spaces of services to become psychologically-informed environments, the role of staff training and support in a PIE-led organization, client involvement and managing relationships, evaluation of outcomes and reflective practice.

PIE works with a humanistic, psychodynamic and eclectic psychological approach, i.e. including elements from different psychological models according to the needs of the present situation and individual service user. The psychological framework mainly aims at enabling staff to reflect on thoughts, feelings and actions. The Guideline contributes to staff’s knowledge and understanding of users’ behaviour and hence contributes to the improvement of relationships between staff and service users. The second key element invites participants to reflect on the physical design of services and provides guidance on how PIEs should look and feel like: Spaces should feel non-institutional, safe and welcoming and facilitate interaction between staff and users. The Staff training and support section makes the point for self-care training for staff and emphasizes the importance of support from management, debriefs and suitable terms and conditions of work. In terms of client involvement and managing relationships, PIE starts from the recognition of the importance of relationships and the importance of understanding the dynamics of support relationships and involved power dynamics. PIE as a response to trauma, which is caused by negative experiences and damaging relationships, needs to provide positive experiences and healing relationships. Empowerment, safety, trustworthiness, user choice and collaboration hence need to stand at the heart of the relationship between support staff and user. More specifically, co-designing services together with users, developing peer and user-led initiatives as well as any kind of informal and impromptu activity that involves both staff and users support the creation of positive relationships and experiences and hence contributes to healing from trauma and violence. The Guideline emphasizes mutual support and confidence among staff as key ingredients for effective reflective practice. Challenges should be addressed as practice and attitudes to be changed, avoiding pointing out individual behavior or attitudes of staff members.

Furthermore, the Guideline provides an introduction into women’s homelessness and how GBV is related to the homelessness of women, the prevalence of GBV, the psycho-socialisation of women and the consequences of experiencing trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences for the psycho-social development in a gender-sensitive perspective. In addition to the Guideline, training lead partner Depaul created a substantial resource collection (including hand-outs for the training, sources for further reading etc.).  

After the staff trainings, all partners will hold a 1-day organizational training event. Involving all staff members of the organization or respective service, the organizational training events will contribute to the transition of the partner organizations to become PIEs and create an overall-organizational, psychologically-informed response for women with experience of homelessness and GBV.

The feedback from the trainings will feed into the final version of the PIE4shelters Training Guideline which will be published in early autumn 2019 on this website.


European train-the-trainers on Psychologically-Informed Environments for homeless services, November 2018, London

The project partners from the PIE4shelters project met at Depaul’s offices in London for a 3-days intensive train-the-trainers on Psychologically-Informed Environments (PIEs).

Main target group were trainers who work with homeless services in the project countries (Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Ireland, UK). Training was provided by a series of experts on PIE, notably Dr Peter Cockersell, Nicola Saunders as a trauma expert who has been in working with women with experience and homelessness and gender-based violence (GBV) in shelter settings. Nicole Cirone from Solace Women’s Aid shared her experiences on how to actually transform a refuge into a PIE. Esther Sample from Safer London presented research on existing support services for homeless women survivors of GBV. Very valuable input was provided by expert partners from the GBV specialist sector Safe Ireland and Collectif contre les Violences Familiales et l’Exclusion (BE). All presentations can be accessed on the right (Download Section).

The next step is to jointly develop the training guideline for frontline and management staff working with homeless services. Extensive training activities will take place in partner countries in spring 2019.


1-day Training on PIE principles provided to Italian homeless service frontline staff, July 2018, Rome 

Dr Peter Cockersell provided a 1-day training on trauma and PIE in the context of homelessness and GBV/DV to frontline staff from several Italian homeless services and project partners. The training was very much appreciated and followed by intensive exchange between Peter, project partners and the participants from local services. The slides are accessible on the right (Download Section).