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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6 thoughts on “Was this always your plan Mayor Robin Wales?

  1. Well said. I have never lived in said hostel but in so-called B&B accommodation. It was ridiculously expensive and I d to queue every 2weeks to ‘renew’ my tenancy there… this was way bk in 2011. Didn’t make sense even then. Now I live in another temporary -albeit more permanent than B&B- accommodation w my kids. This s owned by the council but leased out by a company called Tando/MEARS. Newham Council then pays housing benefit to this company…Doesn’t make no /little sense….The company s supposed to get the HB in order to maintain these (formerly empty) properties…
    Well,what can Ii say,the whole building s waiting to be demolished and apart fr repairing the boiler when needed the company doesn’t do ANY maintenance…they just get the HB direct fr the council….this s a lucrative contract,obviously…
    Tando gt the contract way bk in 2011 for 7yrs. We haven’t been informed when the building will be closed down or anythg. The surrounding blocks have bn recently demolished,after being empty in the last 5+ years…what a waste… The demolished blocks were in better condition than the building we live in…
    None of this makes sense…like the closure of Carpenter Estate doesn’t make sense,either…those flats stand empty,too, when there r so many in the waiting list…
    There s bn a request of information reg.the lucrative TANDO contract…this was in November. The council is in no hurry to reveal the details. Why this company gets so.much HB after so many flats (still in the property of Newham Council) if they do so little/no maintenance whatsoever?! Where is transparency and why us,the tenants of these flats are not informed about the closure of our buildings?! I was anxious to find answers and stumbled upon a request md to Newham Council…this is how I found out that the contract will rubrun out in 2018…then our blocks will be closed down. We live in the ‘Canning Town Regeneration Area’ which is part of the Keir Hardie Estate…not a v nice place to live as the buildings are badly maintained/not maintained and have a v run-down feel to them…Many of the resident don’t care,this is obvious fr the amount of rubbish and crime on the streets…well, I do care or try to…not much hope as the council s very dedicated to its ‘regeneration’ AKA ‘sociak Cleansing’ programme…
    They say ‘mixed communities’ bt all we see is the eviction of the poor undesirable elements and the building of huge (un)affordable new blocks…

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  2. It is important that we set the record straight regarding the latest false and spurious claims being made by Focus E15 above.

    Brimstone House, previously known as the Focus E15 Foyer was a building owned and managed by East Thames Housing Association. The council commissioned East Thames to provide 210 units of short term supported accommodation for young people to help them develop skills to live independently or return to their family. A decision was made by East Thames in 2013 to close the Mother and Baby Unit as all the families living there were assessed and found to be ready to move on into their own accommodation. Despite claims to the contrary, they were not at risk of being made homeless and they were all found appropriate move-on accommodation at a rent fully covered by Housing benefit. Nobody was forced to move out of London. Those who wanted to stay in London were found a home in London.

    The group then state the council has given no assistance to what they claim were the 210 young vulnerable people evicted from the hostel. This is not true. The council, working closely with East Thames, has gone above and beyond to help find suitable accommodation for all the supported young people living in the foyer. Many found move on accommodation of their own while East Thames and the council helped many more.

    Newham Council has never evicted anyone from the foyer. All decisions relating to both the closure of the Mother and Baby unit and the foyer itself were made by East Thames.

    The council and East Thames worked jointly and intensively for over a year to help 89 young people find move on accommodation that was suitable and affordable. No one moved out onto the street. Each resident had a tailored personal housing plan to help them identify suitable options and outcomes including welfare benefits advice and employment and training services through Newham’s Workplace job brokerage scheme. The council attended Resident Meetings at the building and dedicated officers provided one on one support throughout the year.

    We have always been clear that the foyer is not and has never been a permanent form of accommodation. We have never claimed that ‘it is unsuitable for anyone to live in and needs to come down’. For the homeless people now living there, the building will provide a temporary home until a long term sustainable solution is found for their housing situation.

    The housing crisis has seen an increasing number of people approaching us for help with their housing situation. Purchasing the building enables us to help more of these cases, providing those we owe a housing duty to, with an affordable opportunity to stay in Newham while they and we work to find affordable long-term housing. If the council had not purchased this building then a private company could have purchased it and sold to the highest bidder for alternative usage or another London council dealing with severe housing issues like us, could have used it as temporary accommodation for their homeless cases. Due to the government’s welfare reforms, there is a desperate shortage of suitable, affordable accommodation and it is essential that we take these opportunities to prevent people who want to stay in London from moving out to places such as Welwyn Garden City or staying in Bed and Breakfast. The council has already been using empty units in the building since January 2015 to provide much needed emergency and temporary accommodation to homeless residents.

    Using empty units in this way was an approach we wanted to introduce on the Carpenters Estate. While we remain committed to the development of the estate, we wanted to look at how we could use the empty properties on a temporary basis to alleviate housing pressure.

    In 2013, we wrote to the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (CTMO) to propose the possibility of bringing empty properties on the estate back into use which would bring benefits for the CTMO, local residents and businesses. Rather than constructively engaging with us they instructed their solicitors to block us from proceeding.

    In 2014, we took over the management of the low rise properties on the estate and brought 40 low rise empty properties back into temporary use. These are all currently occupied.

    Purchasing this building will provide hundreds of temporary homes in Newham to homeless people. Focus E15 should be supportive of this decision. Instead, they have used it as a reason to unfairly attack the council and make false and misleading claims.

    Finally, it is wholly unfair of former residents of the foyer to mislead others about the support they themselves received from Newham Council. We will not, for legal reasons, set out what that support amounted to at this time. We will be writing to the individuals concerned on this issue.

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    1. Newham Council, why on earth would a whole campaign be built on fiction? And why, since you obviously feel so strongly about the claims made against you, are you posting a comment on a blog rather than meeting, face to face, those who are campaigning? This does not seem very sensible or, might I add, confident on your part. Please come out of the shadows and face the music. You might even like the tune.

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    2. Wow, it’s all a massive misunderstanding. Now I’ve read this post I realise that the real and true problem here (all along) was a failure for the borough’s young / vulnerable / marginalised to hear and understand things on your terms.

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