West Berkshire Council

Housing Advice for People Experiencing Domestic Abuse

Housing options to help people affected by domestic abuse

Housing options to help people affected by domestic abuse

If you feel that you are in immediate danger, please dial 999 and ask to speak to the police. If you are in danger and unable to talk on the phone, dial 999 and then press 55 where you will be assisted without having to speak. For non-emergencies, please dial 101.

Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence or confined to instances within the home. Domestic abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (which includes physical, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse). Abuse is 'domestic' in nature if it occurs between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family member and it can affect anyone regardless of gender, race, religion, economic background or sexual orientation.
 

Fleeing abuse

If you have to leave or have left your current accommodation as a result of domestic abuse the council may be able to support you. The council will be able to provide you with advice and may be able to provide emergency accommodation after considering your circumstances and the support that you currently have (eg whether you are able to stay with friends or family).  

It is important to note that if you leave your home or have left your home due to domestic abuse you will not be considered 'intentionally homeless' by the council. In addition, if you are fleeing domestic abuse you are entitled to apply to any local authority for housing but you will not be referred back to your local authority of residence if you are at risk of further abuse upon your return.

You can receive further advice and information about your housing-related issue from the housing operations team. Simply call 01635 519 530 and choose option 2.

Please note that you can request to be seen by an officer of the same gender as you and you can also request an interpreter if you do not speak English. Furthermore, you will be under no obligation to report any incident to the police if you seek help from us.
 

What can the service do to support you?

Duty to prevent homelessness: The council is committed to supporting applicants who are at risk of losing accommodation within 56 days. This means that we will try to prevent your homelessness by helping you to remain in your current accommodation, if that is possible. Otherwise we will explore with you alternative housing options such as securing accommodation in the private rented sector or supported accommodation.

Duty to take steps to relieve homelessness: We will assist households who are homeless to secure suitable accommodation, regardless of whether they are 'intentionally homeless' or have a priority need. This means that all eligible households will be offered help to secure accommodation.
 

Will the council provide me with accommodation?

We can provide advice and assistance to enable you to find alternative accommodation. However, we will not have a duty to provide emergency accommodation or temporarily house you unless you are considered to be eligible, homeless and have priority need. Your Homelessness Prevention & Relief Officer will discuss this with you as part of your application process and make necessary enquiries to determine our duties.

For more information on the homelessness criteria please visit Shelter Homepage or contact Shelter on 080 8800 4444.
 

The Domestic Abuse Bill

The Domestic Abuse Bill received Royal Assent on 29 April 2021 making this an Act in Law. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 will provide further protections to those experiencing domestic abuse and strengthen measure to tackle perpetrators.

The Act provides a statutory definition of what domestic abuse is to ensure that emotional, coercive or controlling and economic abuse are included. Children are also recognised as victims if they see, hear or experience the effects of domestic abuse.

How can we support you?

Our homelessness prevention and relief officers will discuss your situation with you, if it is determined that you are eligible for homelessness assistance and you are the victim of domestic abuse then you will automatically be assessed as in 'priority need'. This means that should you have no accommodation to occupy, that is reasonable and safe for you to do so, there is a responsibility on the local authority to find you alternative accommodation.

To find out more about the Domestic Abuse Act, please visit: Home Office Fact Sheet
 

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline

0808 2000 247

The National Domestic Abuse Helpline is a national service for women experiencing domestic abuse. 

The Helpline can give support, help and information over the telephone, regardless of where the caller might be in the country. The Helpline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by fully trained female helpline support workers and volunteers. All calls are completely confidential. There are translation facilities for callers whose first language is not English and a service for callers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
 

Women's Refuges (National Support)

An alternative to being housed by the council is being placed in a women's refuge. A women's refuge is a safe house for women and children escaping domestic abuse. The address is confidential, and no men are allowed in the building. A refuge is a place where women can be sure they are safe, and where they can access emotional and practical support from staff who understand what they have been through. Most refuges do not allow a male child above the age of 13 to stay. If you have more than three children limited spaces will be available. 

For contact information and availability for local domestic abuse services and refuges, please call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.
 

Men's Refuges (National Support)

For male refuge spaces, please contact the Men's Advice Line. The advice line is available from Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm. Alternatively, you can get in touch via email or through their website by accessing the webchat function.  

Please call 0808 801 0327, email info@mendsadviceline.org.uk or visit Men's Advice Line - Advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse.

Refuges are not a substitute for other forms of temporary accommodation. The council will work with the refuge provider to consider how long a person needs to stay before the provision of other accommodation may be more appropriate.
 

No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)

There are some refuges that accept victims with no recourse to public funds although there is limited availability. There is limited support available from the council if you do not have recourse to public funds, however, we will assist as best possible. For more information on whether you are eligible for assistance by the council, please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

There are some ways you can apply to remain in the UK and become eligible for more assistance:

  • Individuals who are in the UK on a spouse or partner visa usually have leave to enter or to remain in the UK for between 24 and 30 months, this is often referred to as the probationary period.
     
  • If you have come to the UK on a spouse or partner visa and you are experiencing domestic abuse you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) straight away. You can apply at any time during the probationary period (you do not have to wait until it comes to an end) and even if you have overstayed your visa (however, you will have to justify your reasons for not applying before).
     
  • If you are thinking of applying for ILR under the domestic abuse rule it is very important that you try and get legal advice. A legal representative will be able to collect evidence for you and help make your application.
     
  • Women making applications under the domestic abuse rule can get accommodation and access to welfare benefits whilst they make the application through the Home Office Destitution Domestic Violence Concession (DDVC). You can apply for this through the gov.uk website. 
     

Please see below organisations that can provide support with DDVC and asylum applications:

  • Rights of Women provide an advice line with free, confidential legal advice on immigration issues. Contact women lawyers on:  020 7490 7689 Mondays 10-1pm or 2pm-5pm and Thursdays 10am-1pm or 2pm-5pm.
     
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau and Law Centre's will also be able to provide advice. West Berkshire Citizens Advice Bureau Newbury Address is: 2nd Floor, Broadway House, 4-8 The Broadway, Northbrook St., Newbury RG14 1BA

    Visit Citizens Advice West Berkshire for online support and resources.
     
  • Alternatively, please call the West Berkshire advice line on 01635 516605
    Mondays 9.30am-12.00 and 12.30-3.30pm
    Tuesdays 9.30am-12.00
    Wednesdays 9.30am-12.00 and 12.30pm-3.30pm (if busy, please leave a message).
     
  • You can also look for a solicitor or immigration representative in your area using the Civil Legal Advice on 03453 454 345  Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm and Saturday, 9am-12.30pm.

Local authorities may be required to provide NRPF families with accommodation and/or financial support when there is a child under 18 years old in the family. If this is a situation that applies to you, you can contact your local authority's social services department.

West Berkshire Council's Contact, Advice and Assessment Service (Children and Families Services) can be contacted on 01635 503 090 within working hours. If you are calling outside normal office hours (9am-5pm) then please call the Emergency Duty Team (EDT) on 01344 786 543 or email edt@bracknell-forest.gov.uk. This includes evenings, 24 hours on weekends and bank holidays.
 

If you wish to remain in your own home/ need extra support:

Safer Spaces can prevent homelessness by enabling victims to remain safely in their own home where it is their choice and it is safe to do so. The scheme can provide enhanced security measures in the home which delay or prevent a perpetrator from gaining entry into and within a property and allow time for the police to arrive. The Safer Spaces Scheme can provide security even if you have moved from where the abuse occurred.

If you are a tenant living in a housing association property, please discuss this further with your housing officer who will be able to make the relevant referral.

If you are not living in a housing association property then please contact our housing operations team on 01635 519 530 or email housing@westberks.gov.uk and choose option 2. An officer will assist you with making a referral for any works to be completed.
 

Enforcing your Rights

There are certain legal options that individuals can pursue if they are a victim of domestic abuse. If you wish to do this, it is best to seek legal advice and you may be eligible for legal aid.
 

A non-molestation order:

A non-molestation order is aimed at preventing your partner or ex-partner from using or threatening violence against you or your child, or intimidating, harassing or pestering you, in order to ensure the health, safety and well-being of yourself and your children.
 

An occupation order:

An occupation order regulates who can live in the family home, and can also restrict your abuser from entering the surrounding area. An occupation order can:

  • Order your abuser to move out of the home or to stay away from the home
  • Order your abuser to keep a certain distance away from the home
  • Order your abuser to stay in certain parts of the home at certain times (for example it can order him to sleep in a different bedroom)
  • Order your abuser to allow you back into the home if he/she has locked you out
  • Order him/her to continue to pay the mortgage, rent or bills

For more information on these options, please visit Rights of Women at  Rights of Women or call the National Centre for Domestic Violence, which provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic abuse on 080 0970 2070.


Other services available

These services may be able to support you even if the council are unable to do so. Some of these services are tailored towards specific groups.

West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Service

Our West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Service is provided by A2Dominion (ADAS). A2Dominion provide this service on behalf of West Berkshire and they can offer emotional and practical support to people experiencing or fleeing domestic abuse.

They help all people, with or without children, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity and religion.

The ADAS helpline can help with any enquiries that you may have and provide access to support services.

ADAS offer:

  • A telephone helpline available 10am to 7pm, Monday to Friday on 0800 731 0055
  • Face-to-face support in a safe place
  • Support groups
  • Refuges and other places of safety
  • Support for children in refuges
  • The Anchor Programme for people with complex needs
  • Safety planning
  • Support with recognition of abuse
  • Increased access to services for people and their children
  • Support workers for people in refuges and places of safety
  • Outreach services
  • Independent domestic violence advisor support

If safe to do so, you can also email ADAS at DAS@a2dominion.co.uk

In an emergency, please call 999; press 55 if you are unable to speak on the phone. Alternatively, please call  the 24-hour national domestic abuse helpline on 0808 200 0247.
 

Berkshire Women's Aid

Berkshire Women's Aid is a charity working Against Domestic Abuse in Berkshire. Their vision is for all women, children and men to be able to live free from the fear and experience of domestic abuse and violence in their homes and relationships.

They provide confidential support, information, outreach services and refuge accommodation for women and their children who are affected by domestic abuse.  They work throughout Bracknell, Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham, and are affiliated to the Women's Aid Federation of England (WAFE).

Please call their helpline on 0118 950 4003 or visit Berkshire Womens Aid.

Forced Marriage Unit

The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) can help if you're trying to stop a forced marriage or if you need help leaving a marriage you've been forced into. The Forced Marriage Unit telephone helpline is available 9am-5pm Monday-Friday on 020 7008 0151. If you are low on credit, they can call you back. Outside working hours contact the Global Response Centre: 0207 008 1500

Email: fumu@fcdo.gov.uk 
Website: Stop Forced Marriage
 

National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV)

NCDV offer a free emergency injunction service. Supporting victims of domestic abuse apply for an emergency court injunction regardless of financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation

Website: National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV)

Telephone helpline is available on 0800 970 2070 or text NCDV to 60777
 

Flag DV

Flag DV provide free legal advice to people who are experiencing domestic abuse in West Berkshire and operate across the Thames Valley. An online referral form can be completed via their website https://www.flagdv.org.uk

Alternatively, please email: enquires@flagdv.org.uk 
 

Survivors UK

SurvivorsUK was established as a service for male survivors, however, they are an inclusive service and welcome anyone who identifies as male, trans, non-binary, has identified as male in the past, or anyone who feels that that they are the right fit for them.

SurvivorsUK can offer a range of support services, including counselling and therapy appointments as well as online chat. All services are provided by trained professionals who are specialists in the field of male sexual violence and have helped many men to work through their experiences.

Telephone helpline is available on 0845 122 1201, Monday to Friday 09.30-17.00

Website: Survivors UK
 

Iran and Kurdish Women's rights Organisation (IKWRO)

IKRWO provide culturally-specific support, advocacy and counselling for women from the Middle East and Afghanistan. IKWRO's mission is to protect Middle Eastern and Afghan women and girls who are at risk of 'honour' based violence, forced marriage, child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence and to promote their rights.

Their telephone helpline is available on 0207 920 6460, Monday to Friday 9.30am-5.30pm

For out-of-hours emergencies, please call:

Kurdish / Arabic/ English: 07846 275246

Farsi / Dari / English: 07846 310157
 

African women's Care (AWC)

AWC works with Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) adults, children and young people, fleeing domestic and sexual abuse, including forced marriage, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, gang violence and 'honour'-based violence.

AWC offer confidential one to one and group support to women and girls, including those with mental health needs who are experiencing any form of these violence and abuse, enabling them to make informed choices and exit violent situations.

Telephone helpline is available on 020 8969 8389

Email: africanwomencare@hotmail.com
 

Galop

Galop gives advice and support to people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence or domestic abuse. They also support lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer people who have had problems with the police or have questions about the criminal justice system. There is also a specific service for young people aged 16-25.

There is a lot of information on the website about the support they can provide: Galop - the LGBT+ anti-violence charity

How to get in touch:

London LGBT+ Anti-violence Advice
Telephone: 020 7704 2040
Email: referrals@galop.org.uk 

National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline
Telephone: 080 0999 5428
Email: help@galop.org.uk 

A translation service is available to those who do not have English as a first language.

If you would like more information about support services available to you then please take a look at our West Berkshire Domestic Abuse Support Services Directory. 

Who To Contact