Social Work services, and their staff, have a legal duty to protect, respect and fulfil human rights.
Yolande and her children were fleeing domestic violence, and her husband’s attempts to track them down as they moved from town to town across the UK. Time and again the family would be uprooted, having to move on every time he discovered their whereabouts.
Eventually, they arrived in London, and were referred to social services in their borough. However, what could have been the family’s first reprieve after months of uncertainty and fear turned into another ordeal in itself. Social workers told Yolande that the constant moving of her children meant she was an unfit parent and that she had made the family intentionally homeless. They said that they had no choice but to place her children in foster care.
A support worker helped Yolande to challenge social services’ decision. Yolande said she thought the decision had failed to respect her own right to respect for family life, and the right to family life of her children.
Looking at the situation from a human rights perspective helped change the conversation. Social services reconsidered the issue, taking the family’s human rights into account, and worked with Yolande and her children to find a suitable solution. They all agreed that the family would remain together, and that social services would help cover some of the essential costs of securing private rented accommodation.
For Yolande and her children, being supported to find a new home was an essential step in rebuilding a new life in safety after a distressing and turbulent time.
This real-life story was shared with BIHR by the voluntary organisation involved.