Thanks to a grant from Trust for London and Oak Foundation, the Law Centre is launching a new Temporary Accommodation project in collaboration with Citizens Advice Croydon as part of the Better Temporary Accommodation for Londoners initiative. The three-year project is one of eleven funded projects across the capital and will focus primarily on the boroughs of Croydon and Wandsworth.
The initiative aims to provide help and support to the high numbers of families and individuals who are currently living in highly unsuitable temporary accommodation, having had to, for example, flee domestic abuse. They may be living in properties far away from their workplace or their children’s schools or be in accommodation that is too small for the number of family members or is rundown and in poor condition. Families are often unaware of their rights surrounding temporary accommodation and can end up spending years where they are placed.
The project will be spearheaded by the Law Centre’s Community Engagement Manager, Rhiannon Hughes. She will engage with tenants groups and individuals to offer community training in the rights available to those within temporary accommodation. They will be given a safe space to share their experiences without their fear of losing their home and this will form the basis of developing a public voice to campaign on the key issues that tenants in Croydon and Wandsworth identify. Rhiannon will also offer training in community empowerment, including citizen journalism, evidencing poor housing conditions and how to escalate complaints as well as understanding when to seek legal advice. Rhiannon said:
“Most temporary accommodation is not providing what it was set up to do. It is not a safe place. Some of the conditions that people are forced into in temporary accommodation are unacceptable and unsafe. People endure these conditions for years to fight for a better housing solution for themselves and their families. People pay a lot of money to live in these properties. Local authorities and landlords need to listen if they expect to be paid for the accommodation they are providing. On a larger scale both local and national governments need to deal with these issues.”
Listen to Rhi talking in more detail about the project here.
Patrick Marples, CEO of SWLLC, said:
“We are really pleased to have received the funding we need so we can help tackle this shocking issue that blights the lives of so many vulnerable people. This project will enable us to help defend their rights and campaign for wider change so families no longer have to endure this kind of treatment.”
Claire Keetch, CEO of Citizens Advice Croydon said:
“Our advisers deal with thousands of housing problems every year, including those related to homelessness and temporary accommodation. We are well placed to work with our partners in SWLLC to highlight the kind of difficulties faced by those living in temporary accommodation, and importantly, how we can work together to improve things.”
If you are living in temporary accommodation in the boroughs of Croydon or Wandsworth, or are supporting someone who is, Rhiannon would like to hear from you. To contact her to discuss how you can contribute to the project in any way, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note she is not a legal adviser so is unable to offer legal advice.