The UK has had a steady increase in the number of evictions since the year 2000 records. According to the Ministry of Justice 37,739 private and public sector tenants in 2013 saw their homes repossessed by court bailiffs. Behind each figure, a whole set of events have taken place leaving many people and families completely broken. The story of Francesca is one of these stories that largely takes place within social tenancies. It is a reflection on what it is to be a social tenant, and how becoming homeless can happen in a short space of time.
After living for six years in a temporary flat in West London, Francesca, a single mum with two children and pregnant with a third, was unexpectedly given a notice to leave in June 2013. Soon after, Hammersmith and Fulham council sent her an offer for another temporary accommodation in Bromley-by-Bow. For Francesca, working as an hairdresser from home, this was a no-win situation. It meant losing her clients and her income. It meant losing vital support from friends and disrupting her children’s schooling and lives. She refused the offer, convinced that the council would hear her case. However, it turned out that this decision, made due to important factors, created a nightmare for Francesca.
The council refused to assist her. On top of that, they notified her of no longer having a legal right to her house. She took her case to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and even to her local MP, but to no avail. In December 2013, following months in limbo, the council gave her only 12 hours to pack all her belongings and leave. She was given nowhere to go. Francesca was left homeless with her two young children.
For hours she asked for help at the council office, and only after the intervention of MP Lisa Gorman, she was given a further 3 weeks in an emergency hotel room in Slough, miles away from the area and her children’s school. Francesca, pregnant, had a daily journey of 4 hours taking her children to and from school. She was left alone, traumatized, trying to protect her children from further stress. After continuously pleading her case, Francesca’s pregnancy was an issue that could not be overlooked, and she was finally housed in temporary accommodation in the Borough of Ealing. She has only a year in this temporary flat before she might again be left homeless.
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All Images © Cinzia D’Ambrosi