Safer London has been announced as a winner of the 2018 London Homelessness Awards. They have set up a brand new agreement between London councils allowing people to move away from their current home – where they are at risk – to a new area without losing their tenancy rights. We asked Margaret Williams, Homelessness Project Manager at East London Housing Partnership (ELHP), to tell us how the Pan London Housing Reciprocal has made a cross-sector impact:
“The Pan London Housing Reciprocal has made a vital contribution to homelessness prevention for households fleeing abuse across London. I have worked in the homelessness and the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) sector for over 34 years and it is the first time this kind of voluntary collaboration has successfully operated at a London-wide level.”
“Before the Pan-London Housing Reciprocal, we had sub-regional reciprocals in some parts of London; I coordinated the East London reciprocal. Each scheme that existed worked slightly differently and with different levels of usage. Whilst they were effective to a degree, their individuality restricted both the number of boroughs that could work together and access to the geographical spread available to people fleeing abuse.”
“We know that risk is fluid and borough boundaries are not impenetrable brick walls. The option to move to a neighbouring or nearby borough does not always effectively negate the risk to people’s lives or offer the flexibility of choice survivors need, including the ability to move to areas close to support networks, to start their recovery journey. Consequently, colleagues across the homelessness sector, including myself lobbied for a scheme that would cover London entirely.”
“We knew the potential of reciprocal schemes was not being reached without the facility to drive the process, follow up on referrals, and report on outcomes. We needed a reciprocal scheme that was managed at pan-London level with a team dedicated to its coordination and Safer London have made this a reality.”
“The strategic buy-in that Safer London managed to achieve from Housing Directors and Voluntary Sector Organisations across the capital is astounding and testament to the team’s commitment to cross-sector cooperation. Crucially they have consulted with and brought together experts from the VAWG, community safety and the housing/homelessness sectors. This scheme demonstrates not only the benefits of pan-London collaboration but also cross-sector partnerships.”
“This simple housing pathway is a great achievement that genuinely works to prevent homelessness for survivors of abuse.”
The final order of the top three, and the allocation of the prize money (£30000, £20000 and £10000), will be revealed at a very special event at City Hall on 18th October, with the prizes presented by James Murray, Deputy Mayor. For more information go to www.lhawards.org.uk.