Sofia fled from London to Hull with her 18-month-old daughter to escape a dangerous perpetrator. She was sofa surfing at a friend’s house until she found her way to Preston Road Women’s Centre which offers a one-stop shop of services for domestic abuse victims.
Sofia needed legal advice to help her resolve contact arrangements for her daughter and ex-partner, so she approached Affordable Justice, which is one of the services available at the Preston Road Women’s Centre.
The solicitor at Affordable Justice, which offers reasonably priced legal advice to women anywhere in England and Wales, ensured that Sofia and her daughter had a house within a week and helped to resolve the contact arrangements.
Having a range of services available for domestic abuse victims in one place makes an enormous difference to those experiencing abuse who can often find accessing the services they need hard to find.
Women can drop into WINNER at the Preston Road Women’s Centre anytime between 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday to access any of their services or to meet other women in a safe environment.
Services offered at the centre include specialist domestic violence support and advocacy; legal advice and representation through the family law firm, Affordable Justice and safe, affordable housing across the city.
The centre also provides accredited training in a variety of subjects; registered nursery places for 0-5-year-olds; a comprehensive volunteering programme aimed at improving victims quality of life and job opportunities. There’s also a Girlz Only Young Women’s Project for 10–18-year-olds; there’s Rainbows Charity shop offering affordable, quality second-hand goods as well as a crafts group.
Lisa Hilder, a trustee at the Preston Road Women’s Centre, said they had created a group of different organisations under one roof to ensure that women were able to access all of the services they might need in one place to escape from domestic abuse and get back on their feet.
They now also offer a specialist provision for migrant women who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). Specialist housing is available for women fleeing domestic abuse with NRPF. They have developed a model where they house the women and then organise the paperwork, so they are either entitled to the Domestic Violence visa concession, which gives them access to public funds or Section 17 funding from the local authority where there are children involved. Any shortfall in funds is covered by the centre.
In total the centre has 211 dispersed properties across the city offering a range of safe accommodation. This ranges from crisis accommodation to supported accommodation to permanent resettlement.
There’s also specialist housing for 16–18-year-olds and Lisa tells me they have developed a new type of tenancy agreement for this age group which avoids some of the systemic barriers to this age group being able to get their own tenancies. This means they are no longer forced to go into unsafe hostel accommodation. They were recently able to support a 16-year-old woman who was at risk of forced marriage and had experienced abuse throughout her childhood so she could live independently and focus on her A’ levels in a safe space.
All of the services operate interactively to provide holistic support and it makes a significant difference.
Lisa said: “On average nationally women leave and return to violent relationships seven times before making a permanent break from the perpetrator.
“When we house them, they make that permanent break first time round – we house them safely and in good quality, suitably located homes in easy reach of schools, shops and GPs then wrap the support around them for the duration of their recovery – helping them rebuild their lives and achieve their full potential.”