At Solace we have always supported women and children in need of urgent help when it comes to their individual experiences of living with or fleeing from abuse. It is what we have done for over 40 years working in communities across London.
Our work has intensified with greater numbers of women coming to us for help with over 16,000 supported last year by our crisis services. Shockingly, on average they live with their abusers on average for over six years before they reach out for help.
They are not only enduring abuse and living with fear, many now are coping with poverty, debt, often coerced debit, and a real struggle to feed and clothe their children. This combination of abuse, poverty and all too often poor housing leaving them with fragile mental health such as depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It has become evident to us that many of the women and children we are supporting live in poverty, often extreme poverty, and we are increasingly providing food, clothes, and other essentials including travel cards just to get them through. They are coming to us with children who are hungry and bewildered. As well as protecting them against violence we have now become an anti-poverty charity.
Here are some key facts:
- There are 700,000 children – or 37 per cent of all children in London – living in relative poverty after you take housing costs into account
- While poverty rates are higher for everyone in London than nationally, this gap is larger for children than for any other group.
- London has the highest rate of child poverty of any English region
- There are as many poor children in London as in all of Scotland and Wales.
- More people in poverty live in the private rented sector than any other housing tenure and the number of children living in poverty in private rented accommodation has tripled in the last decade.
- 7 in 10 households in temporary accommodation in England are in London and 80% of these households include children.
For Solace this adds up to a tremendous pressure to support women and children who arrive at our services homeless, hungry and frightened.
The impact of abuse exhausts women and children and affects children’s mental health, sense of security and their development with poorer learning outcomes. They feel isolated and cut-off from family and friends all made worse by being poor in unsuitable and often unsafe housing and worst of all hungry; this all has a lasting impact on their health and happiness.
We are paying for more emergency accommodation, food parcels, clothes, medicine and travel than we have ever done in our history. It is through the generosity of our supporters, grant funders and corporates, have we managed to meet demand so far.
The main drivers of child poverty in London are the capital's high housing costs, lack of affordable childcare, low pay and a lack of flexible, part-time jobs.
Nobody wants to live in a society where parents have to turn to foodbanks to feed their children, but for lots of families in our city, this is a reality every day. It doesn’t have to be like this though. Everyone, from national and local governments and the Mayor, to employers and local communities, has a role to play
It is of real concern to us that we will be able to continue to do this into the future; but we won’t stop until violence and poverty ends, and hope that you will join us.
Proud members of 4in10 London's Child Poverty Network