London mum moved 220 miles away to Hartlepool by council after living in Slough and she's much happier

Dorcas Micaba in her new home
-Credit: (Image: Dorcas Micaba)

A London mum who has been moved 220 miles away by the council after being housed in temporary accommodation in Slough has said she is happy after settling in to her new home. Dorcas Micaba, 26, and her two boys aged five and three, were moved by Redbridge Council amid a 'housing crisis' for affordable temporary accommodation in London.

After being housed in temporary accommodation in Slough - sharing one bedroom between the three of them - Dorcas and her kids were moved 220 miles away from London to the seaside town of Hartlepool in County Durham. She said she is happy here and is much better than other places she has been put by Redbridge Council, like when she was put in a flat overlooking the cemetery where she laid her third son to rest.

Talking about her new Hartlepool home, Dorcas said: "At first I was worried because of the distance, and I hadn't even heard of this place before [Hartlepool]. But when I got here and was looking at the place, I thought it's not bad and so I'm happy."

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Dorcas reading to her son in her Grand Heights flat
"It has been difficult moving here because in London I have friends, I know people, but here I don't know anyone," Dorcas said when talking about being moved to Slough. She had to share one bedroom there with her two boys -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

She added: "It was so far and I was just thinking how would I cope and deal with it but when I got here it's not bad. It's a place that I can live - there's not a lot of people, it's not crowded and it's not noisy. I'm a peaceful person, I love peace. So anyway I got used to the place."

With her family all back in her home country of Angola, Dorcas came to the UK alone in 2018. She found herself having to go to Redbridge Council in 2021 after her relationship broke down with the fathers of her children and her third son sadly passed away soon after childbirth in December 2020. After being bounced around different temporary accommodations, she ended up in a B&B in Gants Hill, Ilford, overlooking the cemetery of her late son in 2023.

The living room
Her new place has a bedroom for each of them upstairs as well as apple space downstairs with a good sized living room and even a garden -Credit:Dorcas Micaba

She said: "It was so depressing. Every time I had to pass there I would just think about the past and it was really bad. It was awful."

She was finally moved out of there to The Grand Heights tower block in Slough where Redbridge and Tower Hamlets Council have been shipping hundreds of people from the capital to live in temporary accommodation while the council finds a permanent place to stay. This is often found hundreds of miles from London, as was the case with Dorcas who ended up in Hartlepool. Refusal of this arrangement means you could face eviction from temporary accommodation, like what happened to 19-year-old single mum Olivia.

But Dorcas is not alone up there, meeting 'hundreds' of other Londoners who had been moved there. She said: "They're moving people all the time. A lot of people are coming down to Hartlepool, loads of them. They are actually moving people from London to here. One lady I met came from another London borough and she told me that she had seen many people from the hotel she was at being moved to Hartlepool. Even the agent, the person that received me when I came here, said they are arranging houses and are moving a lot of people. He said they moved over a hundred people in the last three months or something."

The kitchen
The new place has a decent kitchen too -Credit:Dorcas Micaba

Despite being so far away from where her life started out in the UK, Dorcas is happy in Hartlepool. The house is big enough for her family - they each have their own room upstairs, kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room downstairs and even a garden. Her kids' school is just a four-minute walk away, much better than the 25 minutes it took to get there in Slough. Her GP is close by as well as the shops and of course, you can't neglect to mention the beach.

"The only thing I've got to restart is my studies," Dorcas said, who is enrolling back in college up there. She is also trying to do a customer service training course in order to allow her to work from home and support her family. When thinking about how far she'd gone from the capital she joked, "I'm surprised I'm still in England."

What has Redbridge Council said?

Dorcas in her flat
The only thing Dorcas has to get to grips with after leaving London is to re-enroll in college up in Hartlepool and also to find a work-from-home job to support her family -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

Redbridge Council has previously commented on Dorcas' living situation. They said they are fighting against a housing shortage which has meant more and more people are having to be housed outside of London in Council-provided temporary accommodation. Homelessness applications to Redbridge rose by 49% from 2019/20 to 1417 in 2022/23 according to their records. On average, the waiting list in Redbridge for a three-bedroom property is 16 years.

The lack of availability and affordability within the private rented housing market sharpened considerably in 2022/23 due to the increasing number of landlords leaving the private rented market entirely and the cost-of-living crisis, the Council said.

A Redbridge Council spokesperson said: “The cost of temporary accommodation in London is simply unaffordable, with many private landlords now charging sky-high rental prices. As a council, we must look further afield to give people better accommodation and chances of sustaining a tenancy without needing the Council’s help.

“Redbridge Council, like many other London boroughs, is acquiring affordable homes outside the borough to provide much-needed stability for families. These homes are often larger than those available for temporary accommodation and provide peace of mind and security for families, as it provides a longer-term solution.”

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