Safer London were a winner of the London Homelessness Awards 2018 for their Pan London Housing Reciprocal (PLHR), an innovative partnership scheme that allows people fleeing domestic abuse and other violence to move to a safe area without losing their tenancy rights. We asked Lauren Page-Hammick to tell us what winning meant to them.
We are delighted that the PLHR and all we have achieved has been recognised by the London Homelessness Awards. Before this scheme existed women were often being penalised for trying to keep themselves and their families safe. They were forced to make the decision between staying in a home that was unsafe for them, or move to a new area and face homelessness or years of unstable housing.
Winning the award has had an enormous impact. We are so proud of what we have achieved with our partners, and happy that their commitment to women and families fleeing abuse has been recognised. The Pan-London Housing Reciprocal has shown all we can achieve through building partnerships; professionals working together across different organisations and sectors can literally save lives.
The awards have helped us build on our current capacity and profile to improve the scheme’s reach. We want to improve access for women experiencing multiple disadvantage, including women affected by the criminal justice system.
34% of the population at HMP Bronzefield, the UK’s largest women’s prison, reported experiencing abuse at the time they were sent to prison . Women with a social tenancy also often lose this whilst in custody. Using the Pan-London Housing Reciprocal to support women in to alternative social housing away from abuse when they leave prison could be life changing.
In the past couple of months we have been meeting with professionals working with women involved and the criminal justice system. We’ve been looking at how and when women can be supported to access the scheme, what support is currently in place and how the pathway can be adapted to make it more accessible. We’ve received amazing feedback from professionals who are desperately trying to support their clients to remain safe but who have few options.
A Programme Manager at a charity supporting women who’ve been through the criminal justice system said: “Many women entering prison have experienced violence and abuse within their homes. With both abuse and accommodation represented in the 9 pathways to reducing reoffending, a system that can provide moves for women at risk in their home and their local area, ensuring suitable and safe accommodation, cannot be underestimated in its potential to support this client group and contribute to women’s recovery and empowerment.”
We’re excited to continue this work supporting women who have often been let down by systems again and again.
For more information about the 2018 winners, and to register for entry into the 2019 awards, please go to www.lhawards.org.uk