We’ve been working with local domestic abuse charity RISE to offer survivors of domestic abuse a clearer route into long-term affordable housing.
Women and their families can stay up to six months in RISE’s specialist refuge accommodation while they receive the support they need to recover from their abusive relationships.
When their six months is up, they can face an uncertain future. Private rented accommodation is rarely affordable and, where there is a statutory housing duty, they often end up in council-provided emergency accommodation.
While no families or pregnant women stay in emergency accommodation for longer than six weeks, it can leave women feeling isolated and unsafe again.
This lack of stability can impact badly on survivors and their children, with some even returning to their perpetrators.
The new pathway began in February and means, in some circumstances, women and families staying in RISE’s refuge get higher priority for longer-term housing without staying in emergency accommodation.
Councillor Gill Williams, chair of the housing committee, said: “We recognise that families fleeing from domestic abuse and facing homelessness have already spent time in unsettled accommodation in a refuge.
“We’ve introduced this pathway to help some of those families get higher priority for more settled temporary housing and a more secure future.
“We’ll be looking to build on this positive move forward, and free up the refuge for the next families who need that level of support.”
Beki Turner, the housing lead at RISE, said: “It’s such a relief that this pathway is now a reality, and that women and children from our refuge are able to access the long-term, affordable housing that is so desperately needed.”
Jo Gough, RISE CEO, said: “RISE would like to offer a heartfelt thank you to the council for recognising the need for a safe and secure move-on option to meet the needs of women and children leaving our refuge.
“The prospect of going into temporary accommodation can be a huge source of anxiety for women staying in refuge, who have often already experienced high levels of abuse and trauma.
“I hope this serves as an excellent example to other local authorities, about how the most vulnerable members of our society should be supported.”