It really is exciting to get back into hosting in person public meetings again, as the campaign’s tenth year approaches. The need for innovative campaigns, built through direct experiences and political commitment, creating new knowledge in the process are vital if we are going to move debates on housing into action on the streets and to inform the political struggles that lie ahead.
We are humans, not numbers! We demand to live in dignity and security. The meeting was attended by current campaigners, loyal supporters and new friends of the campaign. Staunch fighters from Brimstone House Victoria Street were there with their children and we heard a moving dignified account of life in temporary accommodation.
We also cheered and clapped about the campaign’s recent victory – overturning the insulting accusation of intentional homelessness and forcing Newham Labour council to reverse a discharge of housing duty. The important points made about the law and its limitations by guest speaker social justice barrister David Renton, rang true. He states in his recent book,
We pledged to continue to educate, agitate and organise, raise consciousness and stand together with solidarity and support for each other.
A belated Happy New Year to all our comrades and supporters. See you all soon on the street stall and at our next actions and meetings throughout the coming year.
A mother and child, survivors of domestic abuse were labelled by the Council as having made themselves intentionally homeless, and therefore, the council discharged its housing duty to this family.
The family, who are living in an overcrowded hostel, had questioned the Council over an unsuitable offer of housing because the new property was in an area that is local to the perpetrator. What follows from a discharge of housing duty is eviction and often, a referral to social services. The family were extremely frightened and upset.
Due to having no option but to fight back, this mother was involved in collective action with Focus E15 campaign, in a process that culminated in a demonstration outside and inside the full council meeting on 16 January, at the Old Town Hall in Stratford. Council officials responded by offering a face to face meeting.
After this meeting took place on 19 January the council was forced to reverse the decision to discharge their duty. The woman said:
The public support I have been shown since we protested at the Newham Council meeting on Monday has been amazing. On the basis of this pressure, today Newham Council scrapped the decision to discharge their duty to me and I am no longer threatened with intentional homelessness. Protest works.
Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz was also forced by pressure and protest in May 2022 to promise that all families with children would be moved out of the notorious 10 Victoria Street hostel by May 2023 as it is no place for children to grow up in. However, threatening eviction as an exit strategy from this building is a shameful moment for the Council. We must ensure that decent homes are now found.
Stand with all those families still languishing in Victoria Street hostel, and with all those moved out into damp, cold homes with mould that the council has allowed to fall into disrepair.
Housing Justice and Respect! No Evictions! No Excuses! No Threats!
Focus E15 will be celebrating on the street stall outside Wilko’s this Saturday from 12pm.
Focus E15 campaign in London send solidarity and strength to the Wyndford Residents and the Young Communist League for the Wyndford High Rise occupation in Glasgow.
What a victory this is and we salute your courage.
This action will shine a spotlight on the barbaric practices of councils up and down Britain, Labour, Tory, SNP, who sell off every bit of land and demolish homes at the expense of people’s lives.
In its drive for profit, capitalism will stop at nothing.
Focus E15 occupied boarded up flats on the Carpenters Estate in east London in 2014. The residents had been battling with the Labour council for years at that point and the battle is ongoing as over four hundred flats still lie empty on the estate in a borough where 25% of households are overcrowded and 1 in 12 children are homeless.
Last year Newham council paid hundreds of thousands of pounds to get the resident ballot they wanted on the Carpenters Estate and now ‘regeneration’ is about to start. But as you say in your statement, this is gentrification and social cleansing and the erasing of working class communities.
All power to the occupation of Wyndford High Rise.
A victory for one is a victory for all! Together we are stronger!
Newham council has stated that it is discharging its housing duty towards a survivor of domestic violence, a woman and child who are trying to get their lives back on track after Newham placed them in an overcrowded hostel.
Abused first by a perpetrator of domestic violence and then again by Newham council who has discharged its housing duty, this devastating process where survivors are left in inadequate accommodation has been highlighted by the Public Interest Law Centre in a recent report into how councils are failing to house survivors of domestic violence.
This resident is calling for action at a Newham council meeting on Monday 16 January, outside the Old Town Hall in Stratford. She clearly explains:
‘I am taking action because no one should be labelled intentionally homeless! I was instructed by Newham council to move to a property in an area that is unsafe for me and my child to live in due to past domestic violence. I was scared. I couldn’t do it. Now the council has discharged its housing duty towards me.
Is this what Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz had in mind last year when she promised to end the suffering of families in 10 Victoria street, Stratford E15?‘
In May 2022, Labour Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz was forced, under pressure from Focus E15 campaign and residents of 10 Victoria Street, to declare that by May 2023 all families with children would be moved out of the hostel, which is a shoddy, unsuitable, overcrowded building.
There will be no let up in campaigning while these families are still living in the hostel or being moved into damp, overcrowded, substandard homes and being labelled intentionally homeless for even questioning a housing offer.
Join us on Monday 16 January at 6.30pm onwards to protest and demonstrate outside the council meeting at Stratford Old Town Hall in Newham:
Old Town Hall 29 The Broadway Stratford E15 4BQ
Bring your placards and anger because this council makes mothers and children homeless! Shame on Newham Labour council! Homes not harassment!