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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.



Upcoming PIE WORKSHOP at the FEANTSA policy conference: A gender and psychologically informed approach to tackle women’s homelessness, 31 May 2019, Porto

This workshop will share some of the outcomes of the PIE4shelter project, most importantly discuss the progress made in terms of increasing the awareness of the need to create more gender sensitive and psychologically informed environments in the homelessness sector.  How do homeless services need to consider the impact of gender-based violence on women accessing services? We will share the example of a service that has successfully developed a gender and psychologically-informed approach to tackle women’s homelessness.

Contributions from Catherine Glew, St Mungo’s, UK, and Tamas Gerencser from project coordinator BMSZKI, the biggest homeless service provider in the city of Budapest.

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).