Reaching out to help those in need

There are times when our colleagues go beyond what’s expected of them to support those who need a bit of extra help. Here we talk about a recent situation where different teams within bpha worked together to help a domestic abuse survivor.

Back in March 2020, just a week before the first national lockdown, we received an application for a home swap from a resident called Sarah*.

Sarah was desperate to swap homes through a mutual exchange with another resident in the borough. She’d found out that her ex-partner, who was serving a prison sentence for committing domestic abuse against her, was due to be released in a few weeks’ time.

Home swaps on hold

Because of the pandemic, the council had to put all home exchanges on hold until government restrictions could be lifted.

But realising Sarah’s safety was at risk, our Housing Services Team worked with the council and police to ensure that Sarah could be temporarily re-housed if there was an urgent need. The team kept in close contact with Sarah throughout lockdown to make sure she was safe.

On 1 August we were able to work on mutual exchanges again. Sarah was a priority and we quickly arranged an inspection of her home. The Surveyor noted that the property needed a number of repairs doing because of damage caused by Sarah’s ex-partner.

There were broken doors, the sink in the bathroom had been smashed and there were holes in walls throughout the property. As Sarah was receiving benefits, we knew that she would struggle to pay for the repairs herself.

A repairs solution

At this point Sarah was emotionally exhausted from the panic about moving before her ex-partner left prison. Knowing that repairs needed to be done before she could move, and that they were her responsibility, created more stress.

Our team reviewed the situation and, acknowledging that the damage had not been caused by Sarah, they asked for financial assistance from the Tenant Welfare Budget. Understanding the urgency, our Money Advice team – which manages the welfare budget – agreed for funds to be released to pay for the repairs.

The Senior Maintenance Officer instructed that the repairs were carried out urgently. Operatives got to work and Sarah was able to swap homes seven days later.

Now in a new home, Sarah has been able to start afresh while the incoming resident got a property that’s in good condition. This is a great example of co-operation across different departments within bpha, with Sarah’s welfare being at the forefront of our decision making.

*the resident’s name has been changed for the purpose of confidentiality.

Supporting victims of domestic abuse

As an organisation working in the community, we recognise that we have a vital role to play in safeguarding our residents. We work in partnership with others to support families who are experiencing domestic abuse. Over the last year we’ve been working to achieve accreditation from DAHA (the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance).

The DAHA accreditation is the benchmark for how housing providers should respond to domestic abuse in the UK. If we’re successful with the accreditation, then it will give us the opportunity to work with leaders in this field and learn more from them.

If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, or you’re worried about someone else, you can contact us in confidence by calling 0330 100 0272. Or contact Refuge on 0808 2000 247. If you’re concerned about your immediate safety, please call 999.