A series of real life stories: Names and other personal details have been changed.
One Divorced but Trapped Still
Afra was waiting for her divorce to be finalised. She had been unhappy in the marriage for years and to her delight the decree absolute was due in a day or two. But with no family or close friends in London Afra had nowhere to go, and was forced to remain in the marital home, a rented flat in her husbands name. This suited him, he didn’t want the divorce and hoped for a reconciliation.
Some months before Afra, who speaks broken English, had been to her local council in search of housing support; she had gone through the ordeal of declaring herself homeless, but the council have tight criteria for such things, and her application was rejected. Afra turned to a solicitor, who took her meagre savings and appealed the decision. At the court hearing no barrister was provided, no translator offered for Afra, who overcome by emotion found it hard to follow the proceedings or make her views heard.
IN their wisdom the court sided with the local authority and Afra was landed with court fees of many thousands of £’s, which she could not pay; her only income being Universal Credit.
Some months after the court case Afra received notification of the first payment date. Sleepless nights of shuddering anxiety and seething anger followed. “I cant pay, what will I do?”, she cried. With no savings or income she was told that she should be exempt from court fees, but the letters kept coming fuelling her anxiety.
Afra continues to live in her, now ex-husbands flat; she feels trapped and helpless. She is now receiving support from a community group, they will help her reapply to the council. But councils, battling numbers with few resources avoid responsibility where they can.
Earlier in the year, when relations with her husband had become unbearable Afra travelled back to her homeland. But family divisions and pressure had made it impossible to stay.