Our journalism needs your support! Become a member
The Bristol Cable

“She won’t survive if you don’t prioritise”

City

Marvin Rees challenged to deliver on manifesto promise on housing for domestic violence survivors.

In the run up to the mayoral election, now-Mayor Marvin Rees pledged to prioritise the rehousing of domestic violence survivors living in safe houses in Bristol.

Yesterday, he was reminded of that promise by campaigners demonstrating at City Hall, who claim the issue has been kicked into the long grass.

“It still hasn’t happened,” said Mehala Osborne, who launched the campaign when living in a safe house herself last year. “We’re here today to make sure it does.”

The highest banding currently applicable to women in safe houses is Band 2, not the highest of Band 1. As a result, many women spend considerable time in ‘temporary’ safe house accommodation because they have nowhere to move to. Meanwhile nationally over two-thirds of referrals to refuges are declined.

Osborne began the campaign by launching an e-petition last November, which attracted over 1200 signatures. Following that a motion was proposed in the council in March, which was passed with a unanimous ‘yes’ vote.

“Initially we were celebrating and thought it was done,” explains Osborne, “We didn’t realise the decision had to then be taken by the [then mayor] George Ferguson, and wasn’t a done deal.”

Ferguson set up a ‘review’ into the issue. “It was actually going to take up to two years – and there was no guarantee that the banding would change.”

Osborne continued campaigning, targetting all the mayoral candidates before last spring’s mayoral elections. All candidates said they supported the cause, and all except Ferguson said they would change the banding immediately.

The review of the full housing priority banding system is currently under way, which is expected to take up to a year. There’s also a review of domestic violence service provision, which is expected to take three months.

Osborne herself spent just under a year in a safe house – hostel-type provision in which families share communal areas and mothers share rooms with their children. She says she knows many more people who spend much longer there, and that in her experience up to two years is the norm, because residents have nowhere to move on to.

Other demonstrators were part of Bristol Sisters Uncut, part of the Sisters Uncut national campaign for domestic violence services.

Comments

Report a comment. Comments are moderated according to our Comment Policy.

Post a comment

Mark if this comment is from the author of the article

By posting a comment you agree to our Comment Policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Respite rooms offer a vital breathing space to women facing abuse and homelessness

Women experiencing violence or domestic abuse in conjunction with homelessness and other traumas have long been at risk of slipping through gaps between services. A new project aims to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Domestic violence services call for focus on perpetrators not just victims during coronavirus lockdown

We investigate why there has been an increase in domestic abuse during the coronavirus lockdown, and how best services can support both victims and perpetrators.

How witness intimidation threatens us all

Failure to clamp down on witness intimidation is allowing domestic violence perpetrators to get off scot-free, and failing survivors.

Survivors and ACORN escalate campaign for accountability on safe houses

Two domestic abuse survivors are at risk of homelessness and say that the council has abandoned them.

Two survivors of domestic violence face homelessness, prompting calls for investigation

Survivors of domestic violence face homelessness, prompting calls for investigation

Learning not to abuse your partner

The programme that puts abusers at the heart of the solution.

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter

Get our latest stories & essential Bristol news
sent to your inbox every Saturday morning