The Sojourner Project

 

The Sojourner Project – Protecting women with no recourse to public funds.

Eaves Housing was formed in 1977 as Homeless Action. Its aim was to target the hidden homeless – single women without dependents who are least likely to have other means of support – by providing them with high quality, temporary homes. Eaves now runs several different support and accommodation projects as well as carrying out research and training on tackling violence against women.

The Sojourner Project is a pilot scheme run by Eaves and funded by the Home Office. Eaves works in partnership with a range of other voluntary providers to co-ordinate support, accommodation and subsistence for women and their dependents throughout the country.

Currently, women entering the UK on a spousal or partner visa must wait 2 years before they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. If, during this 2 year period, the relationship breaks down due to domestic violence, a concession is made so that the woman is not deported and can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain early. However, until Indefinite Leave to Remain applications are submitted and processed, these vulnerable women have no access to public funding. This means that they cannot get a place in a safe refuge to escape the violence.

The Eaves Sojourner Project co-ordinates support for women and their dependents trapped in this cycle of abuse. They provide accommodation and subsistence for the 40 days it takes to process the application to remain. The project is a pilot scheme run in partnership with a range of other voluntary providers currently funded by the Home Office.

Who is eligible for the Sojourner Project?

  • Victims of domestic violence who have no recourse to public funds
  • Those admitted to, or granted an extension to their stay in the UK as a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner
  • Those who qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain under the Domestic Violence Rule

The service can be offered to those meeting the above criteria, and their dependents.

Miles & Partners LLP have set up a free family legal advice clinic to assist women who are eligible for the Sojourner Project. Most of these women require emergency protection from a violent or abusive spouse or partner. A court can protect these women by putting in place a Non-Molestation Order against the abuser. This can prevent someone from hurting or abusing them or threatening to do so. A non-molestation order can also prevent someone from making contact with them, coming to their home or the surrounding area. A breach of this injunction carries a criminal penalty which means that the perpetrator may be arrested by the police.

If you would like to know more or need help with Domestic Violence issues or any other topic mentioned in this article please contact Natalie Lester on nl@milesandpartners.com