Southwark Council’s housing solutions service first in country to receive accreditation by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance

15 October 2018

Southwark Council’s housing solutions service is the first local authority housing service to receive accreditation by the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance. This accreditation has been backed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and is cited as national best practice in the national Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy.

In the last year, an estimated 1.9 million adults have experienced domestic abuse1. Of these, 1.2 million are women and 713,000 are men. At least seven women are killed every month in England and Wales. 75 per cent of women are killed by current or ex-partners in their own homes.

Not only is domestic abuse a national issue, it’s happening within homes right across Southwark and around the country. As the first local authority to receive accreditation, Southwark Housing Solutions has made dealing and responding to domestic abuse a priority for the borough.

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for housing and modernisation received a certificate of accreditation from Gudrun Burnet of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance today, 15 October 2018, accompanied by Cheryl Burrows from Solace Women’s Aid and lead officers from the council at Southwark’s Tooley Street offices in London.

Southwark Council is a trailblazer authority and the first council to fully test the Homelessness Reduction Act before it came into effect this year. As part of this work, the council’s service has developed to prevent homelessness by tackling the issues which make people vulnerable to losing their home – such as relationship breakdown and, often, in cases of domestic abuse. Working with Solace Women’s Aid (SASS), as an integral part of its service, the new way of working has seen great success in supporting people when they first present as homeless.

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, cabinet member for housing and modernisation, said: “Southwark is at the forefront of preventing homelessness, as a trailblazer authority, so I am pleased that we are the first local authority to receive Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance accreditation. Domestic abuse can have a major impact on a person’s housing situation. When someone is the victim of abuse, it’s often their housing situation which can lead them to stay in a toxic or even dangerous relationship, or leave them homeless.

“For us, it is vitally important that we tackle the issue proactively, which is why we have experts in domestic abuse, from Solace Women’s Aid, embedded within our homelessness service. Since this was established, we have seen a 5% increase in referrals, highlighting the scale of this issue.

“We are currently working on a policy which will see the perpetrators of domestic abuse evicted from the family home, not the victim, if he or she wishes to stay. This way we hope to keep children and the victims of abuse safe from further disruption and distress caused by their housing issues. I am delighted that we have received this accreditation and I am very proud of the team which works so hard to manage the service, but I know there’s still much more we want to do to support the victims of abuse.”

The Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance is co-founded by housing associations Peabody and Gentoo as well as Standing Together Against Domestic Violence. It brings together their combined best practice and is the UK benchmark on how the housing sector can improve their response to domestic abuse.

At both Peabody and Gentoo, this approach has had a significant impact on reporting rates and understanding of domestic abuse and its dynamics.  At Peabody, over the past nine years there has been a staggering increase of 1,425% in reporting of domestic abuse cases and a new case reported on average every three days.

Gentoo’s tenants accessed support from their specialist team them one year earlier than specialist domestic abuse services demonstrating the unique role that housing provider can have with their residents.

Southwark’s housing solutions service has also signed up to the ‘Make a Stand’ pledge which is a national partnership initiative between Chartered Institute of Housing, Women’s Aid and DAHA.

Gudrun Burnet, one of the co-founders of DAHA said: “DAHA accreditation is the highest standard a housing organisation can receive to demonstrate its commitment to domestic abuse. We are very proud to be awarding Southwark Housing Solutions with this accreditation and to be able to work with local authorities to embed best practice. We hope that many more local authorities and housing providers across the country will follow in Southwark’s lead and work towards accreditation. Housing is fundamental to someone affected by domestic abuse and if all housing providers got on board then lives would be saved.”

Page last updated: 15 October 2018