Here we tell the story of a domestic violence victim who was housed by a local authority in Thornton Heath alongside recently released criminals.
Last month we reported how other London boroughs are paying private landlords to house vulnerable adults and young people in Thornton Heath because it is cheaper – often in sub standard housing conditions which are exacerbating social issues.
We asked for your stories and one young mum came forward revealing her ordeal in this letter. We are protecting her identity for obvious reasons.
“I left my home due to being in a domestic violent relationship. He was an abuser, he consumed me, mentally, emotionally and ultimately, physically.
“I took my 10-month-old baby and sought help. I ended up in a women’s refuge. So now I was a single mother with severe mental health issues – depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – all alone.
“My family, my life, my base for 26 years was spent in Wandsworth before I moved to be with my ex-partner. I approached Wandsworth for housing assistance. They assessed me and it took five months for them to accept duty of care to house me.
“I moved to a hotel in Thornton Heath. I walked into the room and it was extremely depressing. It was filthy, had no natural light and consisted of a heavily used bed, a fridge freezer and a small built-in wardrobe.
“It made me very low and I soon found the place was full of men, some who had just been released from prison. I was kept up all night by them shouting and drinking and slamming doors.
“I phoned Wandsworth, the following morning, and told them if I did not leave this place, I would commit suicide in the room. I was moved out in three hours to my current room/prison.
“I have to sign in everyday and can not spent a night away even to lift my spirits. I do not speak to anybody, as yet again, it is mostly full of single men who keep themselves to themselves.
“I phoned Wandsworth, yet again to ask when would I be moved back to the borough?
I was told that I have the luxury of a self contained unit and those sharing bathroom facilities are a priority. I have a shower that is unusable and a sink that I can’t fit a flannel into wash. I have a kitchen that consists of a microwave, two hobs, a sink and no work top to prepare or make food and drinks.
“Please don’t misunderstand me, I am truly grateful for a roof over my head. I am not on the street but I am homeless.
“I am moderate to high risk for suicide but in eight months, because I have moved boroughs, I have had no access to a mental health team. I have daily panic attacks and contemplate suicide every day.
“My 18-month-old has moved four times in eight months. No stability, no home, our family is 45 minutes away in Wandsworth and my child’s development and emotional well-being has suffered hugely. My child is under social services, a child in need, due to my mental health and our housing.
“I know we will be OK, eventually. I hope that this letter isn’t too shocking. I’m sure people are wised up to what happens to DV survivors. They only hear the stories when the women are killed. I am a survivor.”