Woman fleeing domestic abuse slept on church floor with her three children

A BURNLEY woman who fled her abusive husband was forced to spend the night on a church floor with her three young children after she was let down by the authorities, her friend has claimed.

Sunday, 7th August 2011, 8:22 am

The 30-year-old, whose children are aged nine, four and 16 months, returned to Burnley, where she was born and grew up, after living in Somerset with her husband.

But her friend, Melissa Scholes, who also lives in Burnley, said she was not given the support she needed after desperately calling Burnley Borough and Pendle Council’s out-of-hours numbers for emergency housing around 9-30 p.m. on Monday.

The woman had already put a deposit down to rent a house in Nelson, where she has family, but was not able to move in until today.

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Eventually she was offered the keys to Nelson United Reformed Church where she and the children spent the night, but they were unable to lock the door and Melissa said anything could have happened to them.

“On Monday she tried to find a private landlord in the area but unfortunately she couldn’t find anything as the day went on and she was unable to stay with her family.

“I would have her stay at my house but I’ve got another friend who is homeless staying with me.

“I rang round some people I knew but there was some apprehension because one of her children suffers from severe behavioural problems.

“By the evening she was desperate and called the emergency line but she didn’t get any help.

“It was absolutely awful. I’ve never been so disgusted and appalled in my life. I was so upset. Her youngest child is still a baby. She’s never claimed benefits.”

On Tuesday she was found temporary accommodation at a Burnley hotel by the Safenet Project, which is run by East Lancashire Women’s Refuge Association and provides support for victims of domestic abuse.

A Burnley Borough Council spokesman said: “As she has close family in Nelson and agreement to move into a property in Nelson by the end of the week, we directed her to Pendle Council’s out-of-hours emergency service who would no doubt have done their best to help her.”

A spokeswoman from Pendle Council said they did not receive a call from the woman on Monday evening but were helping her to move into the Nelson property today.