On Sunday night, the women of a domestic violence refuge in west London suddenly needed somewhere to stay. Their experience was damaging
• Dawn Foster is a freelance journalist
On Sunday evening I sat outside a pub in west London with a group of women, some of whom were crying. A man on a nearby table asked us why we were there, presuming a birthday party gone wrong, or a messy breakup had led to the scene. We were vague and cagey with our answer: “We live in a domestic violence refuge and we’re facing immediate homelessness and danger, so called a journalist for help” isn’t generally a great conversation starter.
Just after midnight that morning, the ceiling had collapsed in one woman’s bedroom: mercifully, she was visiting friends that night. The fact she has a condition that puts her at high risk of a heart attack doesn’t bear thinking about. For two weeks prior in the refuge, the sprinkler system had been leaking heavily: the women showed me the flooding they endured – ankle deep in some bedrooms, and wallpaper bulging with stale water.