Domestic abuse survivor relocated 200 miles from support network by east London council

Barking and Dagenham Council rehoused a domestic abuse survivor more than 200 miles away in the North of England, a new report can reveal.

The council told a first-time mum fleeing domestic violence that if she was desperate, she would take up the temporary accommodation offer which was located in Yorkshire.

The woman, who was unnamed in the report, said: “They said there was nowhere for me to go in Barking and Dagenham and my only option was to move to Yorkshire.

“This was despite the fact that I had lived in Barking and Dagenham all my life, was a first-time mother, a domestic abuse survivor and had a support network there.

“Barking and Dagenham Council said if I was desperate, I would take the offer – because of this I felt I had no option but to make a homelessness application to another council in the north of England away from my support networks, at a time when I was my most vulnerable.”

The mum accused the council of failing to provide a safe place to live for her and her newborn baby as the temporary accommodation was hundreds of miles away from her family support system.

She added: “All I needed was a safe place to live with my newborn baby, which wasn’t my mum’s sofa but was relatively close to her, and Barking and Dagenham did not provide me with this.”

The mum’s story was published in ‘Abused Twice’, a September 2022 report by Public Interest Law Centre, which analysed every London borough’s response to housing domestic abuse survivors.

One survivor argued accessing housing support felt like being “abused twice”, once by the perpetrator and another by the local authority.

Barking and Dagenham Council was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

In 2021, the Domestic Abuse Act received Royal Assent, with the aim that “no one” is turned away from life-saving support.

Under the act, local authorities have a duty to “provide accommodation-based support to victims of domestic abuse and their children in refuges and other safe accommodation.”

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Ruby Gregory

Local Democracy Reporter