So since Wednesday’s blog became the most-ever shared post on our site, by a factor of at least double, Barnet Homes have slightly changed their tune with Jennifer. Unfortunately, rather than admit that they had been caught out neglecting their duties under the Homelessness Act 2002, they tried to delay Jennifer’s meeting this morning, telling her they wouldn’t be able to tell her anything new, until she had submitted more ‘evidence’ of domestic violence. Along with this claim, they offered to keep her housed for a few more weeks, just long enough, they probably reckoned, for all the outrage and Tweets and letters to MPs and Councillors to die down.
But Jennifer won’t accept that. We know that Barnet have neglected their duties as a local authority, and have reinforced that neglect with each letter they have sent Jennifer since late January, upholding their initial decision.
Barnet Homes have police records of physical violence and statements of threatened violence acknowledged in their letters, so requiring further information from Jennifer is simply a delay tactic. It is also out-of-line with local government guidance, which rightly suggests that forcing a survivor to repeatedly dig up old trauma is unfair and abusive in itself and should not be the approach of a local authority.
We have replied to this latest letter with point-by-point citations of the relevant clauses of the 2002 Homelessness Act’s Homelessness Code of Guidance for Local Authorities, highlighting the many ways in which Barnet has failed to live up to its statutory duties to Jennifer and her children.
When we arrive at Barnet Homes this morning for a silent vigil for all the women in the UK who have been killed by domestic violence in the past year, we expect Barnet Homes to once again accept their responsibility to support Jennifer into safe and appropriate accommodation in the area, where she is able to find community support and live free of fear.
We will not be dismissed. There is absolutely no justification for a situation in which a domestic violence survivor should be forced to choose between a fear of future violence, and a fear of homelessness. Yet this is the position Jennifer has been forced into, and we need a strong presence outside Barnet Homes to make perfectly clear that this is completely unacceptable.
We hope to see you there. Please bring candles and stories you are comfortable to share with others. Together we are strong!
JOIN THE FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/668825379890589/
TWEET BARNET COUNCIL NOW: http://bit.ly/1ejnUSK