Kensington Domestic Abuse Survivors Tell LBC Poor Housing “Put Our Lives At Risk"

31 July 2017, 13:32 | Updated: 31 July 2017, 17:10

A group of domestic violence survivors have told LBC their lives are being put at risk by Kensington and Chelsea Council and the domestic abuse charity Hestia.

The women say the ceiling of their refuge collapsed last week, but the only alternative housing on offer is in an area close to their violent ex-partners.

For the last few days, a total of seven women and eight children have camped out in the living room of their refuge because they’re too scared to leave.

A group of domestic abuse survivors tells LBC Kensington and Chelsea Council "put their lives at risk".
A group of domestic abuse survivors tells LBC Kensington and Chelsea Council "put their lives at risk". Picture: PA/LBC

The group claims they first raised concerns about the accommodation several weeks ago with Hestia, the charity contracted by Kensington and Chelsea Council to offer support.

One of those affected, Rae, told LBC’s Rachael Venables: “Every once in a while we saw cockroaches or mice and then we started having problems with the fire alarms.

“It started going off at all times of the night, it’s not just a smoke detector, it’s a loud, loud fire alarm.

“A lot of the kids were getting upset and we haven’t been getting a good night's sleep. One of the leaks, about a month ago flooded one of the girl’s rooms and flooded the living room.”

Those problems continued to persist until Saturday when the ceiling of a bedroom and bathroom at the refuge caved in as a result of a major flood - the damage can be seen in the video at the top of this page.

Damage from inside the refuge
A flood inside the refuge caused the ceiling to cave in. Picture: LBC

In reponse, Hestia offered the group new housing, however, the accommodation was in Barking where three of the women’s ex-partners live.

The move has left some of the survivors fearing for their lives.

“They’re supposed to take us in, they’re supposed to help us start our new lives, they’re supposed to protect us,” Rae continued.

“Here they are contradicting themselves and say ‘you either die here or die here what’s your option because if you choose to die in this house we’re no longer responsible because we offered you somewhere else to go’.”

Kensington and Chelsea Council told LBC it takes the housing needs of domestic abuse survivors very seriously.

A spokesman said the women have been offered emergency places outside the borough on a temporary basis.

The statement adds that the building’s owner is working on repairs and expects the refuge to be habitable by Monday evening.

Hesita said the accommodation outside the borough was for one night only and the group would be transferred back to Kensington as soon as the house was safe.

A spokesman added: "The women decided that they would prefer to remain in the secure rooms in the refuge overnight".