Monthly Archives: April 2016

Was this always your plan Mayor Robin Wales?

Two of the original mothers who founded the Focus E15 campaign, Sam and Jasmin, respond  angrily below to the latest news in Newham Recorder that the hostel known as Focus E15 Foyer is to be bought by Newham council.  Back in 2013 Focus E15 hostel was where Sam and Jasmin and the other mothers were all living at the time they were handed eviction notices by their housing association East Thames. This was because Newham council cut a funding  stream that had supported the vulnerable young people living in the hostel. The young mothers were told by Newham council to pack their bags and get out of the city.

Read Sam and Jasmin’s response to the ‘sudden’ news of the sale of this hostel to the council:

Robin Wales this is ridiculous, even for you. Your council has given no assistance to the 210 young vulnerable people  at Focus E15 hostel and at least 40 babies have been evicted from there during the last three years. You have called us names. You have tried to silence us. You told the mums from the hostel that it is not suitable for anyone to live in and needs to come down.

You have knowingly let families be split across separate rooms throughout the building, you let elderly and people with disabilities live on stupid floor levels  -when the lifts never work, whilst rents have been doubled.  

You cut the support for  vulnerable residents  -that was possibly the only thing useful about dumping us in a prison like hostel and now you are taking credit for saving it! How dare you Robin! You made life hell for so many of residents who lived in that building and were evicted. Some were moved out of London and others live on the streets.

Now you announce you are the saviour making it yours! What a disgrace of a human being – you should be ashamed of yourself.  You say “We cannot turn down this unique opportunity which makes both financial sense at the same time as helping some of our most vulnerable residents.” You make us sick! Are you talking about the same people your colleagues from the Labour party said were not ‘vulnerable’ but ‘needy’?  Do you remember that you said to us that “if you can’t afford to live in Newham – you can’t afford to live in Newham”!

Was this  always part of your plan three years ago Robin? You have no care for the homeless or vulnerable people, they are not rich enough for you. As for it making financial sense – what about all of those living in B&B’s at stupid rents, what about those forced to live in Welwyn Garden City and what about the 410 flats on the Carpenters Estate which the council has  left empty for the last 10 years? The flats on the Carpenters are much more suitable to live in than the tiny cramped bedsits of Focus E15 hostel. As you should know!

What about investing some of your £80,000 a year expenses back into the borough you “care” about so much! You are corrupt! You do not care about working class people, you socially cleanse them. Newham does not want you, Newham does not need you! Newham is not a place for you to “live work or stay”.  You are nothing but the Sheriff of Newham ROBIN the poor. Shame on you!

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New research paper about Focus E15: a nomadic war machine?

 

Researcher Paul Watt from Birbeck University has published a new paper in the journal CITY about Focus E15 campaign –  just ahead of a one day conference in London which takes place later on this month and where the  journal will be launched. CITY is a ‘special feature’ journal focussing on London’s housing crisis  (see below for details).

The paper about the campaign is called ‘A nomadic war machine in the metropolis‘.  In it, Paul Watt applies philosophical conceits (a ‘deleuzoguattarian framework’) to ask the question – what kind of campaign is Focus E15? He also provides a very engaging  over view of the campaign to date  with interviews from the campaigners themselves.

For anyone looking to  familiarise themselves with the work of the campaign so far, this paper, although very academic in places, deserves to be read widely and will be of particular interest to social geographers. In fact the campaigners who have read the paper so far recommend it!  It can be downloaded for free here: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/qfA79PThehB5dEmbB8iz/full 

We would like to thank Paul Watt for his regular support  during the last two years of campaigning.

All the details about the conference mentioned above now follow. Remember to book your tickets if you would like to go:

LONDON’S HOUSING CRISIS AND ITS ACTIVISMS. Saturday 23 April, hosted by University of East London and Birkbeck University.

This one day conference launches a forthcoming CITY Special Feature on ‘London’s Housing Crisis and its Activisms’, co-edited by Paul Watt (Birkbeck) and Anna Minton (UEL).

Speakers at the conference include contributors to the Special Feature, alongside Aditya Chakrabortty, Senior Economics Commentator at The Guardian, and Sian Berry, Green Party Mayoral candidate. Dawn Foster, Michael Edwards, Stuart Hodkinson, Focus E15, Save Cressingham, Architects for Social Housing, 35% Campaign, Radical Housing Network and many more. For full programme visit: http://bit.ly/1MBFf3V

The conference is also a way of celebrating the 20th anniversary of CITY, a journal which has consistently been at the forefront of radical urban scholarship under the editorship of Bob Catterall.

Registration is essential. For full programme and to reserve your place please visit: http://bit.ly/1MBFf3V

Ticket cost (payable on the day):
Waged – £5
Student – £3
Unwaged – Free

 

Young people like Charlie forced to live on the streets as housing crisis escalates

Newham Labour Council – where can Charlie live now?

On a Saturday afternoon in February 2016, a young man called Charlie approached the Focus E15 campaign stall, drawn to the campaign’s message of decent housing for all.  Charlie has been street homeless for some years. He approached the stall because he wanted to show his solidarity with the campaign and was keen to buy a social housing not social cleansing badge.  Since then, Charlie has become a regular on our street stall, getting to know the campaigners and gaining the confidence to attend his first ever public demonstration which was against the Housing and Planning Bill last month. There he joined in with thousands of others demanding housing justice for all. He took the microphone during the march and could be heard telling the politicians  implementing the pernicious bill to  “stick it!”

Focus E15 campaign supports Charlie in his demand to be housed. He can not move forward with his life living rough on the streets because he is stuck in a cycle of despair and anxiety. It is young people like Charlie that are the group now most at risk of living in poverty. Nearly half of people living in homeless accommodation services are aged between 16- 24. Not getting the vital support they need at this crucial time in their lives has a damaging impact on employment, education, health and well being, and, they are also likely to experience homelessness at an older age (Homeless Link 2015).

The campaign was outraged to learn that on 22 March, in the early hours of the morning, Charlie, whilst sleeping rough, received a visit from several officials, two of which were from Newham council. He was handed  a ‘rough sleeping warning notice’. He was told to immediately move on due to his ‘anti-social behaviour of sleeping’ and bedding down in the ‘wrong location’.  Charlie felt intimidated. A warning notice stated that in order to avoid receiving a Community Protection Notice Charlie should  leave the place they found him – within five minutes of being told. Furthermore it was stated that he should  not return and not  bed down  on any land or empty building in the borough of Newham. Charlie was worried. He was was then told that if he does not comply, he will be fined and if he does not pay the fine he will go to court and get a bigger fine.

charlies warningIntimidation of vulnerable young people is not acceptable. Charlie has to sleep somewhere. Sleeping and having a stable home is a human need and a human right! This is why  ‘market forces’ should not be left to dictate housing  planning and allocation – because housing is a  vital public resource. Homes like those on the Carpenters Estate should not be left empty in the midst of a  housing crisis. Newham Council has a duty  to help Charlie and the rising number of rough sleepers in the borough.

While our lawyers get to work on this warning letter, we appeal to Newham Labour council to find a solution for Charlie as soon as possible because his situation is desperate.

Repopulate the Carpenters Estate in Stratford! Let  young men like Charlie live!  He needs a chance and he needs a home! 

Please share this story and tweet at Newhamlondon to raise awareness of street homelessness