‘My situation became bad when my husband started taking drugs. He would shout at me in front of the kids to give him money and throw things in the kitchen, telling me the dealer was coming to collect money for drugs. He made me give him money and then he accessed my online banking and transferred out the money I’d been saving for the landlord. We didn’t have enough left for the rent so we got behind by four or five months and we couldn’t pay the bills. There wasn’t even enough money left for food.
‘It got so bad that I called the police. I tried to tell them that he’d just used me to get a visa to come and live in the UK, but he convinced them it was me who was lying and that I was the problem. I called them again a month later when he was shouting at me for money in front of the children. They still believed him but this time they referred me to Victim Support. That’s how I came to the Law Centre and met Claudia.
‘I wanted to apply to separate from my husband, but because he wasn’t beating me, the Council said it wasn’t a case of domestic abuse, even though he was forcing me to give him drugs money. I didn’t know how to prove it but Claudia called me and told me not to worry, that she was here to help me and support me.
‘At the Law Centre, a money advisor helped me with my bills and arranged for an electricity meter to be put in. I also got sent food parcels. This helped me very much. Claudia told the Council I was entitled to emergency accommodation and so I was given a new place to live. It wasn’t safe to tell my husband we were going so we had to leave everything behind. We didn’t have any furniture and there was no washing machine so I had to go to my sister’s to wash our clothes.
‘Claudia got in touch with the Council again and helped us move to a better place in a different area. She helped me apply for a grant to get a fridge and helped with grants for gas and electricity. It was a big help.
‘I am very happy about what they’ve done. Without the Law Centre I wouldn’t have been able to escape my husband and I’d have been taken to court by our landlord. We are now in a flat and my children have a garden – it has turned out better than I thought. It feels like it’s a long time ago and we can look ahead now.
Tanya* was referred to the Law Centre from Victim Support. Our housing solicitor identified that she was suffering from emotional and financial abuse and made representation to the council on her behalf for them to accept her homeless application on the basis that, despite her having a home, it was not safe for her to remain there. The council accepted they owed her the duty to provide temporary accommodation and she was moved out of the borough, away from her husband. Our solicitor continued to make representations to the council to demonstrate she was owed the main housing duty and should be moved from temporary to suitable accommodation. She has now been rehoused. Our Crisis Navigator also secured her a grant for a washing machine, wardrobe and sofa, and helped her get her council tax and housing benefit in order.
*not her real name