Guddy Burnet is Group Lead on Domestic Abuse at Peabody and Co-Founder of the Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA). In the blog below, she reflects on the reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill that took place in October 2019.
After the suspension of Parliament, last week saw the second reading of the Domestic Abuse Bill in the Commons. While I expected this reading to be poignant, the cross-governmental support and accounts from female MPs made for emotional viewing.
Rosie Duffield, MP for Canterbury, made a particularly moving speech that subtly reflected on the importance of housing. Drawing on her personal experiences, she recounted being trapped in an abusive relationship which she was only able to end by locking her partner out.
Duffield left the Commons hanging on her every word. It brought her colleagues and thousands of others to tears, reminding everyone at home that domestic abuse is a reality for so many. It also reminded us that one of the reasons survivors can’t ‘just leave’ is because they share a home with their abusive partner.
Housing was also overtly mentioned on numerous occasions during the debate. Carolyn Harris, MP for Swansea East, raised the issue of homelessness and the need to take a holistic approach to housing. She highlighted the barriers faced by people with joint tenancies, and the need for survivors to be given automatic priority for housing.
Maria Miller, MP for Basingstoke and Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston, among others, raised the issue of migrant women. With a feeling that the Bill does not go far enough to protect those with migrant status, the provision of secure reporting and housing for those with uncertain immigration status was also discussed.
Through the discussion, the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs was in the public gallery. A co-founder of DAHA, Nicole has worked tirelessly to ensure that housing is seen as a pivotal part of the coordinated community response and we cannot wait to work with her in this new role.
Beyond the Parliament, there is a growing awareness of the link between domestic abuse and housing, The Make A Stand Pledge - a partnership between Chartered Institute of Housing, Women’s Aid and DAHA - is now up to 400 pledgers across the UK. This momentum is incredible, and the fact that DAHA and Peabody are such a huge part of this change fills me with pride and excitement about what the future holds.
On 14th October, the 6th Annual Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Forum returns for the first time online, providing the opportunity to discuss the latest developments in tackling the multitude of violent crimes committed against women and girls, whilst also dealing with the rise in domestic abuse through the COVID-19 lockdown period.