Council discloses source of Hopetown data as it rejects suggestions it was ever lost 

Pic: Oonagh Cousins

The source of data supporting the controversial decision to downsize the Hopetown hostel was made public yesterday by Tower Hamlets council.

The Hopetown hostel in Whitechapel houses a number of vulnerable women, a third of whom have been left with what they say is an uncertain future amid plans to cut beds and move the hostel to another location.

The decision to downsize followed the borough’s June 2016 hostel commissioning plan, which cited an “oversupply” of beds for vulnerable women in the area. However, critics pointed out that figures in the report showed that the hostel was at full capacity.

Campaign group Sister’s Uncut subsequently lodged a Freedom of Information request asking for clarification on which data the oversupply estimate had been based. As Eastlondonlines reported, last week the council responded saying that an employee responsible for collating the information was no longer employed and that such data was “no longer stored centrally”.

Sister’s Uncut have campaigned to keep all beds at Hopetown. Pic: East End Sisters Uncut

However, the council have now finally provided a link to source of the information, linking back to the original report and rejecting suggestions that the data had been “lost”.

The statement says: “It is incorrect to state that we have lost data to do with our vital hostel services. All the data to downsize the Hopetown hostel on which we based our 2016 Hostels Commissioning Plan (HCP) 2016-2019 is publicly available on our council website.

”The Hopetown hostel is not closing, it is being refurbished for a few months in early 2018 after which it will be reopened. Existing female Hopetown hostel residents, who require accommodation based support, are being supported to move on into new female only supported housing at Riverside Complex or other mixed gender supported housing. Those residents will be offered additional, individually tailored psychological support.

‘Some 35 of its residents have already been assessed as ready to live independently and are being supported to move into independent accommodation.

”We consulted partners and hostel residents to ensure that their priorities and preferences were incorporated into our plans. During consultation, over three quarters of respondents (78 per cent) said support to move on into independent living is important. The majority of service users considered themselves ready to move on.”

People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlet’s group leader Councillor Rabina Khan, who has backed the campaign to keep all beds at the hostel, said: “This calls into question how seriously the council are taking the lives of vulnerable women if in one case they’re saying they’ve lost the data and the next they say they haven’t. We’ve recently had a damning Ofsted inspection in relation to Children’s services and this indicates the same might be happening with vulnerable adults.

“My experience in dealing with victims of domestic violence is that there aren’t enough services in the borough. If the hostel is at 100 per cent capacity, it shouldn’t be closed – we need to be considering how to support more women in these situations.”

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