Women and children fleeing domestic abuse are being forced to sleep rough or “sofa surf” due to a lack of support from councils, research has found. A report by Women’s Aid, analysing the experiences of 264 women supported by its No Woman Turned Away project in the 12 months to January 2018, found that 121 women (45.8 per cent) fleeing domestic abuse were forced to sofa surf. Of these 65 women had their children with them. Meanwhile, more than one in 10 women (11.7 per cent) were forced to sleep rough while searching for a refuge place, including five with their children and three who were pregnant.
Women’s Aid said councils are failing in their statutory duty to support women and children fleeing domestic abuse.
Among those supported by the charity’s project, 97 had approached their local authority’s housing team for support. However, more than half (53.6 per cent) were prevented from making a valid homeless application, which means they were refused emergency accommodation. Of those turned away just under a quarter (23.1 per cent) were told they were not a priority need, 9.6 per cent were told they had made themselves intentionally homeless, while 5.8 per cent were told to return to the perpetrator. Read more.