Summer of Action: How can she leave when she has #NowhereToGo?
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Social housing is a lifeline for survivors of domestic violence. 87% of women experiencing domestic violence will have to move home in order to be free from abuse, and domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness among women. With access to social housing becoming increasingly bleak, women are being trapped in abusive situations – how can she leave if she has nowhere to go?
Refuges provide essential sanctuary for women fleeing domestic violence, but government cuts have left refuges in crisis. 2 in 3 women who approach a refuge for help are now being turned away. For half of those women, it will be because there is simply no space for them. For most survivors, the only alternative to find safety will be seeking social housing in a new area, away from the perpetrator, but they are faced with stress and insecurity, often being shuttled between temporary accommodation for years at a time. Women who are able to access refuge accommodation find themselves unable to move on, as this depends on their ability to find affordable, secure housing to move into. This is compounding the refuge crisis, as it means women having to stay in refuges for longer than they need to, preventing rooms becoming available for emergencies.
Government policies such as the Localism Act and the benefit cap have made accessing safe and secure social housing more difficult – and the provisions in the upcoming Housing Act will decimate access to social housing by forcing councils to sell off their housing stock. Social housing is not being built, and “regeneration” efforts are leaving vital properties lying empty – in Hackney, there are 1047 empty council owned homes and in Southwark there are 1270. These empty properties could be providing sanctuary for survivors.
At the same time, local councils are refusing survivors access to the housing that they need. In a recent case highlighted by South East London Sisters Uncut and Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, Southwark Council refused to rehouse a survivor and her children, telling her that they didn’t believe she would be at risk from further violence if she continued to live with her violent abuser. In this case, we were able to reverse the decision – but scenarios like this are being faced by survivors in council housing offices across the country.
This summer, Sisters Uncut will be taking action to demand safe and secure social housing for all survivors of domestic violence. We won’t stand by whilst our sisters are trapped in violent homes by government and local council housing policies. We demand space for our safety.
Follow us @SistersUncut, #NowhereToGo and on facebook to keep up to date with our summer of action. Actions are planned by South East London Sisters Uncut on 26th June and East End Sisters Uncut on 9th July.