Single mum faces eviction after refusing to move 260 miles from Essex border to Hartlepool

Olivia's shadow cast on the ground
Olivia's shadow cast on the ground -Credit:Facundo Arrizabalaga/MyLondon

A single mum is facing eviction after refusing to relocate 260 miles from London to Hartlepool. Olivia, whose name has been changed for her protection, is vulnerable and alone, currently at risk of losing her temporary accommodation in Slough provided by Redbridge Council, which is miles away from her family.

Suffering from PTSD, anxiety, and depression due to a difficult past, Olivia sought housing assistance from Redbridge Council when she had nowhere else to turn. The council temporarily housed her and her two year old daughter in a flat in a tower block named Grand Heights, in Slough, effectively removing her from her support system in London.

The situation has worsened as she's now being asked to vacate the Slough flat. Two weeks ago, the council informed her that they found a two-bedroom property for her and her daughter in Hartlepool, up north.

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She declined the offer due to the significant distance, leading the council to threaten eviction on the grounds that her refusal constitutes 'intentional homelessness'.

Olivia stated: "Redbridge Council just doesn't want to help me out. They've literally just signed me off, closed my case and they're not helping me or trying to contact me whatsoever. They didn't direct me in any way - I didn't know that if I didn't accept this offer I would be deemed as intentionally homeless.", reports MyLondon.

She further commented: "The way they've treated me, they made me second guess myself and second guess myself as a mother because of the way they look at me and treat me in general. It has been so horrible, so traumatic."

This mum initially sought Redbridge Council's assistance in October last year. In a conversation with MyLondon, she stressed that in order to draw the council's attention, she had to show up at Redbridge Town Hall every day for two weeks "with bags and a buggy from 9am until 5pm to try and get attention for help".

On October 19, the council finally placed her in a hostel. However, later in the month, she claimed she was evicted without notice. The distraught mum shared: "They just kicked me out and I was left on the streets and it was pouring down with rain. It was during October and it was freezing cold, me and my daughter were just sitting outside crying."

Following another direct plea for help at the town hall, the council proffered her a self-contained flat in Slough. According to her, this arrangement in Slough was supposed to be provisional while the council sorted out permanent accommodation.

Olivia initially was informed by Redbridge Council that she would be transferred to Nottingham Council, assuming her having family connections there. However, Olivia disputed this, explaining that the council had mistaken her case for another person's, who did have relatives in Nottingham.

After expressing her point that she had no acquaintances in Nottingham and that relocating would isolate her from her support system, the council apologised. Following the confusion, the council procured for Olivia and her daughter a two-bedroom property in Hartlepool on a six-month definite shorthold tenancy. Olivia shared why she declined the offer.

In her words: "I immediately rejected it because I can't go that far again. I suffer with severe mental health and I've got a support system here now, as well as in London. I can't get it stripped away all over again - put my daughter through all that all over again. It's just not fair on her nor me."

After she turned down the proposition, she was informed of her impending eviction from Slough and that the council will terminate its housing duties regarding her, as she is considered 'intentionally homeless. ' Furthermore, the offer is no longer open to her.

She was requested to move out from her Slough flat by the council on April 18, followed by a second request on April 28. Nonetheless, on both instances, she refused and stated that she informed the building management of her situation and they're understanding.

Olivia, the distressed mother, is now seeking legal advice to help her situation and has moved her daughter into her grandmother's house back in London. She expressed her disappointment with the lack of support or guidance after she was discharged, with no mention of shelters or advice on what steps she could take with Slough Council.

She lamented: "The council did not direct me in any way that I can possibly go. They just left me to be homeless."

Taking matters into her own hands, Olivia has reached out to shelters herself to "let them know that this could be a possibility, that [she] could be homeless".

She revealed that she had to abandon her student life in Essex due to being relocated to Slough. However, the building she has been moved to houses others in similar predicaments - sent there by Redbridge and Tower Hamlets Councils.

Despite the circumstances, a strong sense of community and a new support system have emerged for her there. She said: "If it wasn't for this building, if it wasn't for this community that I have now, I would be struggling."

What was the council's response?

Redbridge Council acknowledged the housing shortage they are grappling with, which has resulted in an increasing number of people being housed outside of London in Council-provided temporary accommodation. According to their records, homelessness applications to Redbridge rose by 49% from 2019/20 to 1417 in 2022/23.

The average waiting time in Redbridge for a three-bedroom property is a staggering 16 years. The Council has highlighted that the private rented housing market's lack of availability and affordability became more acute in 2022/23, attributing this to an exodus of landlords from the sector and the escalating cost-of-living crisis.

A spokesperson for Redbridge Council expressed empathy towards [Olivia]'s predicament, noting: "We fully sympathise with [Olivia] and her living situation. She has been provided with temporary accommodation in Slough and was offered a permanent property, which she has refused."

They further commented on the broader issue, stating: "Regrettably, Redbridge and the rest of London is currently grappling with a severe housing crisis exacerbated by years of chronic government underinvestment in social housing. On average, the waiting time in Redbridge for a three-bedroom property is 16 years. The scarcity of affordable homes has forced councils across London to rely on temporary accommodation, much of which is outside of the capital."

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