Support services are only the first step to helping women to face a variety of challenges when they are fleeing violence.
Housing for Women have 80 years of experience in championing women to access suitable housing. We deliver projects that support women and their children through a number of the strands of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) strands. These include our Re-Unite project that supports women who have been released from prison to be re-united and housed with their children, our Re-Place project that assists women who have experienced trafficking, as well as a range of Domestic Abuse services in Ealing, Greenwich and Merton.
Whether a woman loses her home due to domestic violence and/or abuse, exploitation or prison her life, and often her children’s lives, are plunged into uncertainty. Cuts to legal aid and welfare benefits and the threat of long term homelessness together with the potential of losing custody of her children exacerbate this.
Many of our support services provide crucial safe temporary housing, but with the current housing crisis there are less and less housing options available and it is becoming increasingly difficult to support women in their transition into their own safe, secure and permanent accommodation.
Local councils are under increasing pressure to house vulnerable women after they have been in temporary accommodation. It is challenging for councils without the means to take action to do so. The private renting sector can be almost impossible to ‘crack’ for those who claim any sort of housing benefits, and even for those with jobs rent levels are often unaffordable.
Support services like ours provide a crucial short term means to empower women into an independent and positive long-term future.
Many women report that the support we offer is life-changing. We want to ensure that this important first step to recovery and independence remains available to women in the future.
Roxanna Donald is a Support Worker for Housing for Women.