Govan Law Centre secures furnished tenancy for vulnerable client

Govan Law Centre secures furnished tenancy for vulnerable client

Sophie Berry, Govan Law Centre solictor

A young woman presented to Govan Law Centre’s Women’s Rights Project as an emergency referral as she was struggling in B&B interim accommodation provided by Glasgow City Council has been provided with a furnished tenancy.

The woman and her partner had been placed in B&B accommodation which was a double room that lacked any cooking facilities and personal living room space. She was also pregnant when she presented to the project and had been residing in this accommodation for over two weeks.

In her statement, she described her experiences of homelessness: “We are living in a room that is approximately 10 feet by 10 feet with a cupboard-sized bathroom attached that I currently struggle to even fit in the shower door, as the sink is in the way of the shower entrance. We are also currently living off microwave meals and pot noodles as we only have a kettle in our room.”

Aside from the physical standards not being met, the accommodation also had a significant impact on her mental health. She was struggling with severe anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following her experiences of gender-based violence and sexual assault.

The sexual assault she had experienced had occurred in the close vicinity of the interim accommodation and was worsening and triggering her PTSD symptoms.

Describing her experiences in terms of the detriment to her mental health, she said: “I suffer from mental health issues including paranoia, PTSD and anxiety as I was sexually assaulted in Glasgow town centre which is currently where we have been placed. This was all mentioned to our caseworker at our first meeting, I extensively went into how being around unknown male environments can trigger this never mind being in a small distance from where such a traumatic event took place.

“I feel that being able to feel safe is the most basic human right which due to my past now takes extra effort to achieve feeling safe for me and he simply said that they couldn’t adhere to any of this.

“So in other words, none of this mattered which is shocking in itself that people there to help in a time of need have this attitude. We are now currently in a B&B where someone has a key and has been in and out of our room without prior knowledge. We are not even a foot away from a male staying in the next room. These conditions are at a very large cost to my mental state.”

Govan Law Centre was able to act quickly in taking instructions from its client to contact Glasgow City Council regarding its breach of the Homeless Persons (Unsuitable Accommodation) (Scotland) Order 2014, as amended, and to advise that it would pursue a Petition for Judicial Review should the council fail to comply in offering alternative, suitable interim accommodation, such as a temporary furnished flat (TFF).

The law centre was able to provide sufficient notice of its intention to take legal action and as a consequence, within the space of an hour, an offer of a TFF was made to the client which was accepted as suitable.

GLC’s Women Rights Project comprises Sophie Berry and Charis Brooks, solicitors, supported by GLC’s legal and clerical team.

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