More social housing needed to help survivors of domestic abuse, says Shelter Scotland
Shelter Scotland is calling for more social housing to be created in Scotland amid persistent concerns that the lack of it stops people leaving an abusive partner.
Between April 2019 and March 2020 there were 4,832 applications to local councils from people experiencing homelessness who said that their reason for leaving their old address was violence or abuse in the household.
Lucy* - who is part of the charity’s Time for Change group in Aberdeen - was sent to a hostel after leaving an abusive partner.
She said: “It wasn’t safe. There were fights every night. The noise was horrendous. Doors would be slammed. I could even hear punches being thrown. Men would chap on my door. It was really threatening and it made me really ill being there.
“I ended up going back to my ex-partner. I was never more at risk of being hurt.”
Fortunately, Lucy got a place in a refuge and then an offer of a small studio flat from her local council.
Alison Watson, director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Scotland needs 37,100 new social homes to be built in the next five years if we’re to start reducing need.
“Lucy’s story is just one of countless examples of the risks people, and especially women, face when they lack access to safe, secure and affordable social housing.
“We support efforts to change the law so that wherever possible survivors of domestic abuse can stay in their homes, and perpetrators are made to leave.
“But where that isn’t an option access to social housing must be made easier and the only way to do that is to build the homes Scotland needs.”
Lucy is now a member of Time for Change Aberdeen, Shelter Scotland’s group for people who have their own personal experience of homelessness. Members use their own experiences to help the charity improve services for others through research, influencing and campaigning.
Shelter Scotland’s online petition in support for social housing can be signed at shelterscotland.org/buildscotlandsfuture.
* Lucy’s name has been changed to protect her identity