New housing initiative to help women and children fleeing domestic abuse

Cyrenians will lease up to 30 homes in Edinburgh and offer tenants additional support to deal with their trauma.

An Edinburgh-based charity has signed up to a new housing initiative to support women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

Cyrenians has become the first in Scotland to team up with the Women in Safe Homes Fund (WiSH).

WiSH buys properties and then leases them to housing charities for women who need somewhere safe to live after leaving an abusive relationship.

Cyrenians will lease up to 30 homes in Edinburgh, and offer tenants additional support to deal with their trauma. 

Viki Fox works at Cyrenians as its policy and participation manager.

But she has her own personal experience of domestic abuse.

“I stayed in the situation much longer than I should have done,” she told STV News.

“I knew if I left, I’d be homeless and having to present as homeless, I didn’t know where I would end up, if I would be in a homeless B&B, or where I would be, so it was almost better the devil you know.”

When Ms Fox left her partner, she spent 18 months in supported homeless accommodation.

“It wasn’t ideal but at least it gave me a place to try and move on and start rebuilding my life,” she said.

“Once you’ve come out of an abusive relationship, that isn’t then the end – you’re left with all these feelings of shame, of really low self esteem. I felt like I’d been brought down to nothing, really.”

It’s hoped that the new partnership with WiSH will help other women who find themselves in a similar situation.

The fund not only allows the purchase of properties, but ensures that they are of a high standard and in well-connected neighbourhoods.

This is seen as a vital way of supporting survivors of domestic abuse to continue in employment and education.

Amy Hutton, director of services at Cyrenians, said: “We expect over the lifetime of the fund – the next seven years – to be able to offer accommodation to in the region of 200 women and children.

“We want, where possible, women to almost bypass the need to go into mainstream temporary accommodation, because it can be distressing, disorientating, and potentially very traumatic for them.

“So this offers an opportunity to access good quality temporary accommodation, which can allow people the time to recover and receive support until they can take the next step into more permanent accommodation.”

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