Our service user stories

*To protect our service users, names & photos of service users have been changed. Images are from Adobe Stock. 

Lara’s story:

Lara lived in the UK with her husband and children on a spousal visa and did not have any other family in the UK. Her husband had complete control over their finances and had been violent and controlling towards Lara on many occasions.  

Lara’s husband pushed her down the stairs whilst she was pregnant. Laura called the police. Her GP reviewed Lara and immediately referred her to Solace.  

Solace have been supporting Lara ever since, in her immigration application, legal help, social services and other support.  

Mia’s story:

Mia had leave to remain in the UK on a spousal visa and lived with her husband and their child. Her husband used her uncertain immigration status to control her, saying that she would be deported and no longer able to see her child if she didn’t do what he wanted. He was verbally aggressive towards her and would often withhold money for basic necessities for both Mia and her child. 

A Solace staff member assessed Mia to determine her support needs. They have since liaised with immigration lawyers and helped her move into temporary accommodation and provided her with financial support.  

Solace continues to help Mia with emotional support and to lease with organisations to find her and her child permanent housing.  

Asha’s story:

Asha experienced physical, emotional and mental abuse for 2 years for 2 years and was referred to Solace when she was pregnant.  

Asha was referred to Solace after an incident of sexual assault by the perpetrator. Solace enrolled her in a 6-week Domestic Abuse workshop, referred her to our legal surgery and applied for a Non-Molestation Order for her.  

Since Asha was referred to Solace, she has had no further contact with the perpetrator, feels more confident about not returning to the abusive relationship and has a non-molestation order. The perpetrator is currently in prison. Asha and her child live in a different address and feel safe. 

Em’s story:

Em was living with her abusive ex-boyfriend without benefits, a GP or ID. She was regularly being made street homeless or forced into street sex work by her ex-boyfriend. The perpetrator had repeatedly abused Em, had attempted to strangle her and regularly told her to commit suicide. He would keep her locked in the flat. 

Em was referred to Solace and we learnt that she was homeless and self-harming. She was referred to the WiSER project and since then her live has improved drastically. She meets Solace staff weekly, is living in her own council flat and has ID and bank accounts. Her drug use has decreased, and she rarely drinks. She is on medication for her mental health and is in regular contact with her GP.  

She is looking forward to decorating her flat and getting a dog.  

Alison’s story:

Alison was living with her partner, who she’d been with for about 6 months when he became frequently violent towards her. She was referred by social services to Solace. 

 Solace advocated for Alison to be put in emergency accommodation for her so she would not become homeless. The local authority placed Alison in mixed, sheltered accommodation. She was the only woman, living with 12 men and was sexually assaulted by one of the men staying her. This exacerbated stress and fear she had been experiencing as a survivor of domestic abuse. 

Thanks to Solace, Alison has now been placed in a more permanent accommodation outside of the area.   

Sophie, a 21-year-old survivor who was supported to flee abuse at short notice:

“Because of the support from Solace, I was able to flee abuse and start afresh in a new home for myself. My caseworker organised the cost of the train journey to view the new property and paid towards removal costs and essential works, so it was ready for me to move in at short notice. With the helping hand of my caseworker, we were able to have everything set up for me to move safely. This support opened up a door to a new life for me and helped remove some of the financial barriers that were between me and living a life free of abuse. Thank you.” 

Amelia, an elder survivor who has been shielding over the last 18 months during the pandemic due to complex health needs:

“I’ve been shielding due to my age and lung condition for many months now, and Solace has been the only help I’ve had during this time. I live alone and have felt isolated from old friends and family since I fled abuse. I was so worried about how I would get by on my own during the lockdowns, but the weekly food parcels and phone calls from Solace have really brightened my days and helped me to carry on. I like that I can get the food that I want and need – fruit, vegetables, and the biscuits I like! It’s also reassuring to know there is someone I can speak to about my benefits and health to support me to get more help.” 

Violet, a single mother who was supported to flee abuse and move into a secure tenancy after staying in temporary accommodation with her baby for several months:

“I felt such relief when my baby son and I were supported to get long-term housing, but the prospect of having to start over again in an empty flat made me so anxious. I had to leave behind all my belongings when I fled the abuse at home. I didn’t have a bed for myself or anything for our new place. Solace stepped in to help again exactly when I needed them. They made sure I had the essentials – a kettle, microwave, bed, and cot – for the move in day. And a few days later, I had everything I needed to make the new flat feel homely. It was so difficult to get the courage to leave the abusive relationship I was in as I’m a single parent on a low income, and I knew I would have really struggled to afford a move like this at such short notice. Solace’s support has empowered me to create the best start for me and my son in our new home.” 

“Now I feel like I have my place where I am safe. I have a place where I can go to sleep; I’m safe, I have my shower, I can cook my food. Before I was on the street – I wasn’t safe, and I was scared 24 hours a day.  I can finally do my things, if I am hungry, I can make my food; if I need to wash my clothes, I can do that. I feel like a human, not an animal. Before on the streets, where I couldn’t wash my clothes, I had to stay in dirty clothes. Now I can sleep in a bed, I can use the shower when I want. I feel like a human should feel. This is most important, is because I am a woman and I feel safe.  

I can close the door, and I feel really safe and really comfortable with that. Nobody is going to come to me in the night-time and wake me up and ask me about not nice things, I feel safe. This is the most important for me because before every night I was going to sleep feeling scared. I think for most women it’s very important to just feel safe, because on the street you don’t feel safe, especially at the night-time. 

I have a son, and I have my mum, and I can just invite them here, it’s much better. They can come to me for visits, I can show them London, they can stay here comfortably, so it’s very good for me. I’m thinking about some courses, and I bought a sewing machine and will start to learn. Keeping myself busy and doing something that I like. On the streets, you don’t have time to think about this, your focus is on making money and food and finding a place for another night because usually, you’re sleeping in different places every night.” 

Esme – Housing First 

“I was homeless – living in a cold derelict building with no support services four years ago. I had to sleep under three duvets, and I had nothing. The council referred me to a B&B before I got into a hostel where I was for three years, then I was introduced to Solace Housing First. I didn’t know anything about Housing Associations until then. This flat just feels like a dream. I never imagined I would get housed in this area. I feel so lucky, I could have been God knows where. I feel like things have just got better and better.” 

Ruby- Housing First