We keep hearing the pandemic is over – but it isn’t. The last two and a half years really have been unprecedented and we’ve lived through a once-in-a-lifetime historical event.
As a housing officer, I’m seeing every day the impact that the lockdowns had on everyone in Southwark – and it hasn’t finished yet. That’s really what we’re dealing with at the moment.
For me, one of the most difficult things about the lockdown was dealing with domestic abuse. When people couldn’t leave their homes, we all understood that there were women shut inside with their abusers.
The thought of this preyed on my mind along with a lot of other housing officers, because we knew that when women were at home, instead of being safe from the virus, they were most in danger. I have spoken to women and that’s when you discover what they had to do to survive this imprisonment.
In many cases they were trapped with their children, so they kept things on an even keel in any way they could. The pandemic was incredibly difficult for so many mothers, but for someone whose partner was actually harming her, or who was afraid of her partner, this was a silent crisis behind closed doors that no-one else would even know about.
But now the lockdowns are over, things that were held in the dark are coming out. Survivors are telling us their issues and we’re trying to assist them as best we can. Some of them are brave enough to leave their abusive relationships and I, like other officers, am working with women who need somewhere permanent to live, somewhere to escape to. Right now I’m helping a tenant to get out of the situation she was in and into temporary accommodation so that her abuser doesn’t know where to find her. Assisting her and others like her is a very big priority for me.