As part of the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence campaign, L&Q reveals they have housed five survivors of domestic abuse in a safe and secure environment they can call home.
Based on the Housing First model, Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse (STADA) and Solace Women’s Aid are working in partnership with housing providers such as L&Q to provide a home and support package for women who have experienced domestic abuse in Westminster.
L&Q have given five women who have suffered long term and repeated homelessness a stable home from which to re-build their lives since 2019.
The women that have benefited from the Westminster VAWG Housing First project have experienced multiple disadvantages, such as experience of leaving care, domestic violence, drug and alcohol dependencies or mental and physical health issues.
Personalised ‘wraparound’ support is delivered by Solace Women’s Aid case workers who work with a maximum of five women at any one time due to the high and complex nature of the women’s needs.
They work to engage and build relationships with the women, support them to access a permanent, independent tenancy, and then provide intensive support to help maintain that tenancy, and address other aspects such as their physical and mental wellbeing.
The wide range of support offered as part of the wrap-around package includes help with benefits, support with substance abuse, managing a tenancy, accessing therapy and recovery services and training, volunteering and employment opportunities.
Jane, one of the five residents, is now living independently, without support from Solace.
Lyron Johnson, Regional Housing manager at L&Q Living, said: “I am so proud of Jane and how far she has come.
“She is independently reporting repairs and decorating her home and has a great working relationship with her housing officer.
“This was a big step for her and one that has led to a secure tenancy in a safe place she can call home.”
Unlike other projects of its kind, women have choice in the location of the property and can turn homes down until they find one that meets their needs.
There are also no conditions attached to moving into a home, they don’t need to be clean from substance abuse or even to have left their abuser. All of this contributes to the project’s overall tenancy sustainment rate of 92%.
The Housing First model has been making waves across the world and has been widely adopted in the US, Canada, Denmark, Finland and France.
The evidence-based approach is supported by research commissioned by Crisis and Homeless Link that suggests 16,500 people facing multiple disadvantages in England would benefit from a Housing First support offer.
Lyron continued: “We are proud to play an active role in this innovative project, enabling domestic abuse survivors to access housing at their own pace, and with support for as long as they need help.
“Tragically, for women, domestic abuse is the leading cause of homelessness. The Westminster VAWG project is one of the first Housing First projects tailored for women, where specialist women’s sector providers deliver dedicated and nuanced support.
At the heart of Housing First’s model is effective partnership working to sustain tenancies.
“Each partner delivers against their strengths to create a step-change in the life chances of vulnerable women, many of whom are struggling with the impossible choice of staying with their abusers or sleeping on the streets.”
Hannah Brown, Housing First and Homelessness coordinator at STADA, said: “The Housing First model affords individuals choice and control.
“This is particularly important within the Westminster VAWG Housing First Partnership which supports women who have been consistently let down and disempowered by the system and within their abusive relationships.
“This principle is strongly upheld by all partners who ensure autonomy over choice on housing, area and the support they are offered. We believe this is key to the success of the project.”
Image: PeopleImages.com – Yuri A / Shutterstock
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