TAKE ACTION: Living in fear of violence is not ‘suitable’ for a family!

Jennifer is facing homelessness with her two young boys because she wouldn’t move into the same area as the family of her violently abusive ex-husband. Take action (below) to tell Barnet Council that protecting your family from the threat of violence should not leave you at risk of homelessness!

A letter by one of Jennifer's sons.

A letter by one of Jennifer’s sons.

When Jennifer and her two sons, recently evicted from Sweets Way, were offered accommodation in the same post code as her violent ex-husband’s sister, she asked Barnet Homes to review the offer. The thought of crossing paths with him was too much. She couldn’t live with that possibility.

Barnet Homes, however, operate a single offer policy, which means that if you don’t accept one offer of ‘suitable’ housing, you can be discharged from their housing list for two years. Which is exactly what they did to Jennifer and her sons.

She appealed the decision, but had it turned down again, and received an extensive letter from Barnet last week which told her the only recourse she had left was to go to the courts, or present herself and her children to Shelter or another homelessness charity.

Even after having been initially moved to Waltham Forest, nearly 10 miles from Sweets Way, her work, and the boys’ school, Barnet Council have informed Jennifer that she will need to vacate her temporary accommodation by the 2nd of June. But like so many others, she has not been able to find anywhere to rent privately within her budget.

Barnet Homes dismissed Jennifer’s concerns about seeing her abusive ex-husband because his more recent threats had ‘only’ been via Facebook and email. As a result, they claim there is no reason to worry about her or her children’s safety! (“…the only threat ]since August 2013] you have received from them as been in form of e-mails and Facebook, these are threats that are not related to areas as they are online threats and can be experienced anywhere.”) However, Local government guidance on dealing with homelessness and domestic violence states unequivocally: “there must be no risk of domestic violence (actual or threatened) in the other district [where a family is to be moved]…” This criteria has clearly not been satisfied, even by Barnet Homes’ own admission.

This is totally unacceptable, a neglect of the Council’s duty to Jennifer’s children and an insult to every family that has experienced domestic violence.

Can you take any of the actions below to support Jennifer and hold Barnet to account?

  • Join us outside of Barnet Homes, 11am on Friday (May 22), as Jennifer meets with them inside, to send a clear message that a home which increases the threat of violence is not ‘suitable’ for a family. [http://on.fb.me/1EiLSlL]
  • Tweet Barnet Council [http://bit.ly/1R2teYK] or write on their Facebook page [http://on.fb.me/1Hrkeb6] and tell them what you think of this kind of dismissive treatment of family who has already been through so much hardship.
  • Send an email to Ward Councillor Richard Cornelius and MP Theresa Villiers, asking them to ensure Barnet Homes take Jennifer’s concerns seriously, and that they provide her and her sons with appropriate accommodation in Barnet. A template letter and contact details are below.

Jennifer is not alone in all of this. We are standing together with her and we will do whatever is needed to ensure a decent home for her family. It is exactly Barnet’s dismissive treatment of the issue of domestic violence that allows it to remain the epidemic that it is.

We all have a right to a home that is free from the fear of violence.

—————————————————————————————

Here are the contact details for Richard Cornelius and Theresa Villiers, and a template letter you can adapt and send them. (Be sure to mention if you are from their constituency, as they have an obligation to respond to you then).

MP Theresa Villiers
0208 449 7345
theresa@theresavilliers.co.uk 

Councillor Richard Cornelius
0208 359 2059
cllr.r.cornelius@barnet.gov.uk


SUBJECT: Barnet Council’s responsibility re: domestic violence and housing

 

Dear Cllr Cornelius / Ms Villiers,

I am writing in regards to Jennifer and her two sons, formerly of the Sweets Way estate.

The Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities to the 2002 Homelessness Act states that:

“A high standard of proof of actual [domestic] violence in the past should not be imposed. The threshold [for suitable accommodation] is that there must be:

no risk of domestic violence (actual or threatened) in the other district [where the family is being moved]…”

As elected representatives for Jennifer’s local area, you have a legal duty to provide her and her children with suitable accommodation where she can feel safe from both actual and threatened violence. Barnet Homes’ decision to discharge duties towards her and her kids will leave them homeless, because they chose to avoid the potential risk of abuse.

As you know, according to the Housing Act 1996 and the Homelessness Act 2002, the priority should always be for a client to be and to feel safe. Current treatment from the local authority has failed to meet this criteria.

I ask that you urgently review Barnet Homes’ decision and rehouse Jennifer and her children with suitable local accommodation, free from the kinds of threats described above.

I also expect that any future cases will be treated with the same care outlined above.

Thank you,

A concerned constituent

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14 thoughts on “TAKE ACTION: Living in fear of violence is not ‘suitable’ for a family!

  1. Perhaps it could be stated that should Jennifer move to the area, and violence occurs, Barnet Council will be complicit in the situation , and can be fined very very large amounts of money, and those responsible sacked for gross negligence…. They will change their minds pretty quick then!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Crass insensitivity to this family’s basic needs and rights, reflects very badly on the councils priorities and humane values. This particular case requires special and caring consideration; a chance for those officially involved, to show humility and common sense.

    Like

  3. I have sent the following to Councillor Richard Cornelius;

    I have recently been shocked to read the councils reasoning for denying re-housing to a single Mother and her two children.

    “…the only threat ]since August 2013] you have received from them as been in form of e-mails and Facebook, these are threats that are not related to areas as they are online threats and can be experienced anywhere.”

    Whilst it is true that these threats can be recieved anywhere this is not really the point, is it? Whatever these threats contain could become a reality and if her and her children live near him this gives him the opportunity he would not otherwise have. But I am sure you are intelligent enough to realise this otherwise you would, presumably, not have got your job.

    I have, then, no choice but to see this as a cynical ploy to avoid your legal obligation as a council. Your actions betray a chilling disregard for the safety of women and children in your constituency. They also display a misogynistic lack of concern regarding issues around domestic violence which many women experience. I would hope to shame you into doing the right thing but your council clearly lacks any sense of moral or legal duty.

    Debbie Marriner,
    Welfare Rights Worker and Concerned Citizen

    Like

  4. Hi guys,

    In here you’ve described Shelter as a ‘homelessness charity’ they are actually a housing advice charity and can assist her with appealing the decision made by Barnet Council. If she hasn’t already, I suggest Jennifer go to see them for advice because appealing suitability decisions on homelessness is like bread and butter to them!!

    Good luck! x

    Like

  5. Unfortunately none of this has suprised me. The perpetraitors and their extended families seem to get to live their lives free of being punished and victims suffer in silence. Its disgusting that domestic violence isnt taken as seriously as it should. There are more refuges in this country for abused ANIMALS than HUMAN BEINGS. How the hell does that work.

    Like

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  8. To condemn a mother with her two sons to either a life of homelessness or constant danger from a violent family is just plain irresponsible. Barnet council should be called to account for their actions.

    Like

  9. Pingback: UPDATE: House Jennifer NOW! | sweets way resists

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