'Places of Safety': Birmingham and Solihull Women's Aid Home Options Hub Research and Evaluation Project.

This report, written by Housing and Communities Research Group member Thea Raisbeck, presents the results of a year-long independent evaluative research project.

This project tracked the initial set up, operation and development of the Domestic Abuse Home Options Hub currently being piloted as a joint partnership between Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid and Birmingham City Council. The Home Options Hub is the first of its kind in the country and provides a dedicated, specialist pathway for women and children in Birmingham who are experiencing domestic abuse and at risk of homelessness. 

The research was commissioned by Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid to capture evidence and data from the first 11 months of the Hub’s operation (February 2019 to December 2019), in order to help shape future service development and commissioning; contribute to local and national evidence bases; guide future research agendas and direct local policy focus.

In particular, the project aimed to provide narrative, experiential detail of the circumstances facing, and the ‘journeys’ undertaken, by women and children in Birmingham who are fleeing domestic abuse; the experiences of the specialist practitioners who assist them, and how these may have been impacted by the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act and corresponding policy environments.

Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods at Birmingham City Council, has highlighted the importance of this work:

This report helps build up an evidence base to prevent and relieve homelessness for women and children experiencing domestic abuse and demonstrates how preventing homelessness and domestic abuse requires a co-ordinated, whole systems approach, to ensure women and children get the best and safest outcomes. All this is made even more challenging in the midst of a national housing crisis, austerity, and the effects of welfare reform. The lived experiences of women accessing and being supported by Hub will help to inform any future service delivery, and the wider report will help to contribute to the ongoing discussions in the area of domestic abuse; helping to effect local and national policy and practice change”.

Download a copy of the report

About the author

Thea Raisbeck has over 13 years’ experience in housing, homelessness, and domestic abuse sectors, where she has held a range of frontline, research, policy, and governance roles. Thea combines extensive ‘on the ground’ experience with research expertise in order to produce meaningful work that has relevance and applicability at practice, policy, and strategic levels. 

Thea has held an Honorary Fellowship within the Housing and Communities Research Group at the University of Birmingham for three years. Since gaining her Fellowship, Thea has designed, researched, and authored a series of pathbreaking reports on the ‘exempt accommodation’ subsector. The most recent of these reports, Exempt from Responsibility? continues to have significant impact at practice, policy, and strategic levels; both locally and nationally.

Thea also leads on Research and Best Practice at Spring Housing Association.

About Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid support women and children affected by gender-based abuse including domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. They believe that women and children have the right to live free from violence, abuse, and fear, and work in close partnership with agencies such as housing and the police to ensure the best outcomes for women and their children. The organisation’s one-to-one, tailored support services deliver long-term, positive outcomes for women and their children by addressing all of their needs including poverty, debt, homelessness, housing, legal issues, health, and wellbeing. 

For further information on this research, please contact Thea Raisbeck: T.Raisbeck@bham.ac.uk

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