Women fleeing domestic abuse have instructed the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme they’re being left homeless as a result of councils are failing to offer them with appropriate brief lodging.
“It was very difficult indeed, emotionally, because you’re basically begging [for somewhere to stay], and every day not knowing where you’re going to be sleeping,” says Kay.
“You’re looking to placed on a satisfied face to be supportive of the youngsters – telling them, ‘It’s going to be all proper,’ when deep within you actually do not assume it is going to be.
“You do not know the place you are going to be staying.”
Kay left a violent dating on the finish of final 12 months, and to begin with moved into a shelter on a momentary foundation.
When her keep got here to an finish, Bromley Council sooner or later agreed to deal with her as a unmarried individual.
But when her two kids got here to reside along with her, she used to be instructed that housing would no longer be made to be had to them as a circle of relatives, main to 3 months of her and the youngsters sofa-surfing with family and friends.
The govt has introduced a session into easy methods to enhance get entry to to social housing for domestic abuse victims in England.
It says a selection of measures are already in position to strengthen victims – together with a £40m fund to be spent throughout 4 years, partly to “strengthen specialist accommodation-based services”.
Housing attorney Jane Pritchard says in terms of discovering brief lodging for victims, there’s a “really low bar”.
“The native authority merely wishes ‘explanation why to consider’ that the individual is homeless, that they are eligible for help below the Housing Act, and that they’re in precedence want of lodging.
“Then there is a accountability to offer appropriate brief lodging in an instant.”
But she often comes throughout scenarios the place a council has instructed a domestic violence sufferer “it isn’t their duty and to visit some other council”.
“When someone is fleeing domestic abuse, we may only have one chance, one opportunity to assist in protecting them – to ensure that they’re housed in suitable, safe accommodation,” Ms Pritchard says.
“If that applicant is going to the council and is became away at the moment, we all know that that individual would possibly by no means return.
“They would possibly return to the culprit and the abuse, and would possibly by no means ever give you the chance once more of being rehoused.”
Hostel ‘with 14 males’
Sophia – no longer her actual identify – fled her house after being in an abusive dating, travelling to London, the place she was hoping a council would supply her help.
But, she says: “They simply brushed aside me. They did not appear to take into account that I used to be homeless. I used to be in truth homeless.
“I repeatedly visited the council, and there were times when I’ve been in a phone booth crying my eyes out [while calling them]. I was so vulnerable.”
The council later presented her a position at a hostel – one housing 14 males.
“I was scared. I was just scared. I couldn’t see myself living with 14 men, with shared facilities – toilet, bathroom, kitchen. It’s not safe,” she says.
“One of the ones males in truth got here to me and mentioned, ‘If you get a knock in your door at two within the morning, do not be disturbed, it is only me.’
In the top, she “simply ran away”, staying at a mattress and breakfast at her personal value, and, on the considered having to transport again into the hostel, she attempted to kill herself.
Eventually, Sophia controlled to search out everlasting lodging – however she did so with out the assistance of the native authority.
‘Such a aid’
After 3 months of sofa-surfing, Kay and her two kids had been discovered lodging by means of Bromley Council.
The native authority mentioned in a commentary: “Whilst any prolong round providing extra everlasting housing is obviously regrettable, it will have to be remembered that those is a lengthy record for housing throughout London and it’s important for everyone else at the record that due procedure is adopted”.
Kay recalls her son’s response to waking up in his personal mattress for the primary time in months.
“He mentioned, ‘Mum it used to be so at ease,'” she says. “It’s such a aid.”
Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 on BBC Two and the BBC News channel.