Caring, Collaborative, Community-focused…Cruel, Conniving, Contemptuous

Haringey recently spent money redesigning their website to boast about how much they care for our community. Yet our members are constantly being faced with the opposite of every value they claim to uphold. N’s story is just the latest example.

Screenshot of text from Haringey Council's website titled 'the haringey deal'. The text says

Our commitments

Haringey Deal - Doing things together logoWhen the Haringey Deal was launched in November 2022, the council outlined a series of commitments:

    developing a better understanding of our residents and what matters most to them
    building stronger relationships with residents
    learning when mistakes are made and fixing them quickly
    empowering communities to lead their own change
    finding new ways to share power with residents and communities

We’ve introduced a new set of organisational values to capture the change that the council is going through:


After a long battle, our member N finally won a court order at the start of July for Haringey to move her family into suitable housing. But nearly 2 months later, she’s still waiting.

When a judge finds in your favour, you think something’s finally going to be done, but Haringey’s showing me that they’re above all law. It’s affected me in every way, mentally, physically, emotionally. I’m a shell of myself. Even when I’m not speaking about it I’m constantly thinking about it, I can’t shut my brain off, it’s on my mind 24/7. It’s like I’m trying and failing, it seems like there’s no break, it’s never-ending. When is it going to be enough? They’re not listening to our cries, but even when I run to a judge, we’re still here.

I feel like I’m being racially profiled. If my skin colour was different I don’t feel like I’d be treated like this. The way Haringey treat Black people is just disgusting. Even when my house was infested with roaches I got ignored, even with my kids’ disabilites we aren’t taken seriously. Everything for me gets delayed, and when it does get looked at, it gets sabotaged. Even when I’m trying to look out for the interests of my kids and safeguard them, they make it out as if I’m a bad parent and threaten me with Social Services. But when I’m calling Social Services myself and asking them to help us, I get ignored by them too.’

Haringey might be acting in contempt of court now, but they’ve been treating N with contempt for many years before. Here are just a few snapshots from her story.

10 times Haringey treated N with contempt in the past decade

  • Ten years ago, when N was a private tenant, she went to Haringey for help with a rat infestation. She had two young children and a six-month-old baby. Instead of helping her, they called Social Services.
  • When she first approached Haringey as homeless, eight years ago, they denied any knowledge that she’d already been on the housing register for 7 years before that. She had to start all over again.
  • When she got the eviction notice from her private landlord, Haringey forced her to wait for the bailiffs before they would do anything to help. She and her kids had to drag all their belongings to the council office to find out where they were going that night.
  • At N’s first temporary accommodation, she asked to be moved because a racist neighbour was calling her kids ‘monkeys’, but Haringey ignored her. N then lost her job because she couldn’t travel 1.5 hours each way and get back in time for the school run.
  • At N’s second temporary accommodation, there was raw sewage dripping from a pipe outside her door, and mould that turned the walls black. Haringey’s own officer later admitted the property was unfit to live in, but she and her kids were left there for 3 months.
  • At N’s third temporary accommodation, the house was infested with roaches and rats. N’s young disabled children would put roaches in their mouths if her back was turned for a split second. She reported it immediately, but Haringey left them like this for 16 months.
  • At N’s fourth temporary accommodation, she had to watch her disabled children 24/7 to stop them falling two stories from the unsecured French windows. Her neighbour bullied her to the point where she stopped using the living room for fear of more noise complaints. Haringey left her there for 5 years.
  • After ignoring N’s complaints for 5 years, Haringey eventually agreed to move her again…but this time, they discharged her into the private sector and ended their homeless duties. This meant she was kicked off the waiting list for council housing, again.
  • Haringey ignored N when she tried to tell them their private sector discharge offer wasn’t safe for her children. Instead, they treated her like SHE was the safety concern for not wanting to move there, and threatened her with Social Services again.
  • Haringey’s pressure forced N to accept their accommodation offer even though her teenage son was being threatened. The following summer, he was beaten up so badly that the nerves of half his face were left permanently damaged.

Last autumn, N joined our group and we supported her to make another homelessness application. When Haringey accepted this, we hoped things might get better for N and her family soon. But this was just the start of the story.

10 times Haringey treated N with contempt in the past year

  • At first, Haringey sent an email saying they were treating the case as if she’d never been discharged. Then they recalled that message, and said they were treating it as a fresh case instead. This meant N lost the chance to backdate her housing register bidding to the point when she first became homeless in 2015.
  • N repeatedly asked Haringey for a banding review so that she could bid in the most urgent band on the housing register while waiting for suitable temporary accommodation to come up. Despite her follow-up complaints, they didn’t even acknowledge this request for 5 months.
  • In March this year, Haringey eventually did a banding review…but they incorrectly assessed N’s case as if she was still living in her previous accommodation, not the current one.
  • Nine months since she first requested it, Haringey STILL haven’t finished doing a banding review based on N’s actual living situation. She could have been bidding in the highest band all this time, but Haringey have denied her the chance.
  • Haringey accepted a full homelessness duty to N last November because her accommodation was unsafe to stay in, but since then, they’ve left the family in the same place for 9 months and counting.
  • They ignored letters from HHAG, and ignored letters from N’s lawyer, until she began a judicial review and made a successful urgent application for interim relief.
  • When she took them to court, Haringey tried to discredit N to the judge, downplayed her son’s trauma, and gave false information about whether she’d contacted the police.
  • The judge saw through this and gave them 3 weeks to move N’s family somewhere safe and suitable. Instead, Haringey tried to offer N the SAME place she was currently living in, with the only change that it was now reclassified as temporary accommodation.
  • They tried to justify this by claiming the attack on her son was a ‘one-off’, even though he can only stay safe if he never leaves the house alone. The first time Haringey ignored N’s warnings, her son was violently assaulted, but now they’re dismissing N’s safety concerns again.
  • A month after the judge’s 3-week deadline had passed, Haringey finally offered N other temporary accommodation… which would be 1.5 hours’ travel from her child’s SEN school and her family support networks. Their own suitability policy says it’s a top priority not to disrupt disabled childrens’ education. But the ‘suitability’ section of the letter was just a couple of lines long and didn’t even mention any of these issues.

N’s expectations were already low, but she still wasn’t prepared for the phone call she got from a Haringey Council officer last week. The officer called her up out of nowhere with no appointment, going behind her lawyer’s back, and tried to guilt-trip and bully her into giving up on her legal case.

10 times Haringey treated N with contempt in one phone call

  • The council officer said her expectations were ‘too high’ because she wants a safe outdoor space for her disabled children, even though she has an Occupational Therapist report and an EHCP which confirms they need this.
  • N was living in Haringey when she made the application, has spent most of her life in the borough and her support networks are all close at hand, yet he interrogated her about why she didn’t approach another council for her homeless case.
  • He said she should move to one of the neighbouring boroughs, Enfield or Waltham Forest … but when N said she was willing to do so if Haringey offers a property there, he moved the goalposts and started pushing her to move outside London instead.
  • He asked about her income, then treated her as if she was being ridiculous for hoping to find accommodation anywhere in London.
  • He acted like she should have done more to find a property herself, even though Haringey have had 9 months and still failed to find somewhere suitable.
  • He said that if she thinks that’s unfair, she should go and ask the government for more funding.
  • He lectured her about how she ‘keeps refusing properties’. But when N pointed out that she’d only refused one unsuitable offer, he claimed he couldn’t comment because it’s ‘not his department’ and quickly changed the subject.
  • He claimed he was worried about her children suffering in unsuitable accommodation…as a result of staying in the same accommodation which Haringey had previously tried to claim was perfectly suitable.
  • He said she should use Homeswapper to get rehoused, which is only available to permanent council tenants.
  • When N tried to explain how his behaviour was making her feel, he scolded her for being ungrateful. He lectured her about how he’d got a degree from a top university and could have made a fortune in business, but chose to work in public service to ‘help’ people.

Two months since the court order, and nine months since N was re-accepted as homeless,  there’s still been no help. Last week, Haringey asked N again for medical documents which were already supplied nine months ago. Every time they’re supposed to do something, they come up with another way to delay.

Nothing can take away the impact of these years of contempt, but Haringey still has the chance to make it right going forward. We’re supporting our member N in her fight to make Haringey recognise their mistakes. 

The judge let Haringey have 3 weeks to find accommodation, despite the threat of violence against N’s oldest son, because the court recognised that her disabled younger children can’t be placed in any random property that comes up. Before N took Haringey to court, they’d already wasted half a year failing to find somewhere suitable. Even after the judge allowed them extra time, they still wasted another two months.

The family needs to be near their SEN school. They need to be near N’s family who help her with essential childcare and respite. They need to be in a safe, quiet place which doesn’t trigger the children’s noise sensitivity or put them at risk due to their lack of danger awareness.

And they need somewhere N can finally call a home, where her children can safely enjoy their childhood at last and where she can feel at peace.

It’s not good enough just to use the word ‘suitable’ in their offer letters, they need to mean it. N needs Haringey to find accommodation that’s truly suitable for the whole family.

August 28, 2023  Tags: , , ,   Posted in: HHAG ACTIONS