On 26 March housing activists from the Focus E15 campaign, HASL and FRFI joined together outside Bridge House, which is the housing office in Stratford E15 (in the London borough of Newham) to support Shelica, a homeless single mother of two. The Focus E15 campaign met Shelica at our weekly street stall in Stratford and offered to support her. She had been told she was likely to be moved out of London to Hastings and would never come back. This is Newham Labour council operating a policy of social cleansing.
Social cleansing causes a great deal of distress for the people targeted.Such a move for Shelica, away from her family and support networks would prove to be disastrous for her and her two young children, almost certainly leading to social isolation and stress. However under pressure and with publicity, the council changed its mind and realised that they could find temporary accommodation for Shelica in London after all.
See the video below with an interview with Shelica:
During the protest, all the housing activists acted peacefully and made sure that anyone going into the housing office was allowed to do so. We are extremely concerned that Bridge House decided to shut down the housing office, turning its back on Newham residents in housing need. Newham Labour council is also responsible for boarding up flats on the Carpenters Estate, which is right next to the housing office. These homes need people.
Yesterday there were two rallies to end the housing crisis.
One was in Westminster led by Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem, Greens and of course Nigel Farage and his UKIP party – a rally hastily called before the party scramble for the upcoming election. The other was in an estate in Barnet where hundreds of members and supporters of grassroots campaigns came out to fight for the Sweets Way Estate, debated housing and opened up 2 more homes for residents to re-occupy. ‘Homes for Britain’ had contacted Focus E15 campaign not to speak on their rally alongside these parties, but to ‘borrow’ one of our banners. We do not exist to legitimise false campaigns.
These demonstrations represent two different fights in Britain – the fight being led by those who already have a voice and the fight being led by those who don’t. The Focus E15 Campaign call on people not to vote for any party which has pledged to continue austerity. This fight will not begin and end with a few broken pledges in parliament, with a few choice words spoken at a rally in Westminster. It has already begun with the Sweets Way Estate, Focus E15 Campaign, with New Era, Our West Hendon, The Aylesbury Estate and many more. The fight will continue with every eviction resisted and petition created, house occupied and banner made. It will be led by those directly affected and it will win.
VICTORY FOR ASHA AND HER CHILDREN – three bedroom home in Newham confirmed today! Asha and children were threatened with eviction and being moved out of London on 16 March, but she stood firm and with the support of the Focus E15 campaign the family have been housed in Newham. This proves that there are homes locally.
There has been a dramatic increase in evictions
whilst the Carpenters Estate in Stratford remains mostly empty -so let’s keep up the pressure – and demand that councils work for the people they serve. Social housing not social cleansing!
“Our campaign is one led by women most affected by the ongoing austerity which is tearing families from their homes and making countless people street-homeless. We are directly challenging our Labour council and the wider government. We’re angry, organised and are demanding change!” Read the rest of the article about the Focus E15 campaign written by Saskia O Hara in the Huffington Post