Category Archives: families

The Focus E15 newsletter is out now

Tomorrow Saturday 30 January – Join Focus E15 contingent to: 

March Against the Housing Bill!

(there will be no Stratford stall outside Wilko’s).

Travel to the start together… meet Focus E15 at Stratford station at 11am (outside the exit that leads onto the bus station, near the train statue).

https://www.facebook.com/events/817880454987012/

The march, organised by Lambeth Housing Activists, starts from the Imperial War Museum, Lambeth Road, SE1 6HZ (nearest tube Lambeth North) and will march to Downing Street for 2pm.

See below re other events and actions related to opposing the Housing Bill.

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Tonight Friday 29 and tomorrow Saturday 30 January

Land of the Three Towers

A community theatre piece celebrating Focus E15 occupation of Carpenters Estate in 2014

https://www.cptheatre.co.uk/production/land-three-towers/

Congratulations to FYSA theatre company for the latest E15 performances. Reviewed below and more performances scheduled for later this year.

https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/2016/e15-review-at-camden-peoples-theatre-london-a-rallying-cry/

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Two campaign events on Saturday 13 February 2016

Focus E15 campaign stall 12-2pm on the Broadway outside Wilkos in Stratford. 

We will be supporting the Radical Housing Network’s call for action against the housing bill. Come and speak out, leaflet  and use the open mic. Make plans, talk to people on the streets to make the housing movement grow. All welcome. Take part in East London Radical Assembly’s stall crawl and get involved with the housing movement in your area.

Focus E15 campaign meeting and the Immigration Bill 2.30-4.30pm

Bryant Street Methodist Church, Bryant Street, E15 4RU

Come and hear a speaker from RAMFEL – Refugee and Migrant Forum of Essex and London  www.ramfel.org.uk/

Discussion in particular about the Immigration Bill and the impact on housing and planning future events.

Big Thank you to Simon from Architects for Social Housing who spoke about the housing bill at the last meeting.

https://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/

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HOUSING AND PLANNING BILL CALENDAR

26 January: 2nd Reading of the Bill in the House of Lords (first chance to discuss areas where amendments are needed, so start lobbying Lords before this date). Defend Council Housing lobbying Southwark Council offices at 160 Tooley Street (6.00pm).

30 January: March Against The Housing Bill, called by Lambeth Housing Activists (midday), from Imperial War Museum to Downing Street.

2 February: Defend Council Housing Protest outside Parliament (4.00pm), followed by testimony meeting (5.00-7.00pm), in Committee Room 4a.

6 February: Defend Council Housing organising meeting (11-1pm), Unite the Union, 128 Theobald’s Road.

9 February: Islington Hands Off Our Public Services Commission, public meeting on the Bill (7pm), Islington Town Hall, Upper Street.

10 February: Estimated date of Committee Stage of Bill in House of Lords. Detailed examination of the Bill lasting around two weeks.

13-14 February: We Love Council Housing, weekend of actions against the Bill called by the Radical Housing Network for the Valentine weekend.

24 February: Estimated date of the Report Stage of the Bill, when the House debates any committee amendments. This is shortly (that day or the following week) followed by the Third Reading, the last chance for the House to vote on amendments. Any amendments are then sent back to the Commons for consideration. Then the Bill is sent for Royal Assent.

13 March: Kill the Housing Bill (Act) / Call for Rent Control, National Demonstration called by Defend Council Housing.

16 April: People’s Assembly Against Austerity: March for Health, Homes, Jobs and Education, Central London.

5 May: Elections for London Mayor.

CALL OUT: STAND WITH NAZRAH AND ISMAIL! NO PROPERTY DEVELOPERS IN NEWHAM COUNCIL!

On Friday, Nazrah and Ismail, two of the most active members of the Focus E15 campaign, will be facing Newham Council at the Royal Courts of Justice in Central London, and they need your support in the courtroom.

IMG_20150117_130717
Ismail and the boys on a street stall earlier this year

CALLOUT: 10:30am, Friday, December 4, 2015
Central London County Court, Thomas More Building WC2A 2LL

Since coming to a Saturday campaign stall in November 2014, looking for help resisting their family’s eviction, Nazrah and Ismail have worked tirelessly to support other families in Newham and beyond going through housing struggles of their own. They have lived in Newham for over 6 years and developed strong ties and support networks in the borough.

In that time, with their three young boys, the family have experienced their own high court bailiff eviction and been in constant conflict with Newham Council and the Home Office about their housing, right to work (as a teacher and teaching assistant, respectively) and Asylum claims.

On Friday they will be appealing Newham Council’s rejection of their responsibility to house the family, while challenging the role of a senior housing manager at Newham, who is also a board member of a property developer in the borough. The family are arguing that someone who makes a profit from property development, management and rentals, should not be in a position to determine the borough’s housing needs, or decide where families in need should be housed.

Join them in the courtroom on Friday to help keep the pressure on Newham Council!

Stand with Nazrah and Ismail!

No to property developers in Newham Council!

Central London County Court, Thomas More Building WC2A 2LL
10:30am, Friday, December 4, 2015

No to social cleansing in Redbridge! Support Bianca to stay in her community

Stand in solidarity with Bianca on Monday 12 October. Bianca is being evicted. The baliffs are coming. She wants to be rehoused in her local community near to her support networks.
Either meet at her flat at from 8.30am or at the housing office in Illford at 9.30am.

Please be aware that the press will be there -bring your banners and your voices!

Bianca’s flat address is : 304, Chadwell Heath High Rd, Romford, RM6 6 AG. Meet there at 8.30am. Nearest station to Bianca’s flat is Chadwell Heath Station, or 86 bus.

From her flat we will be organising free cabs to take people to the housing office when Bianca has her housing meeting at 9.30am.

Housing office address is: The Housing Advice Centre, 17-23 Clements Road, Ilford IG1 1AG This is the second meeting point and we will be there at 9.30am.Nearest Station to the housing office is: Ilford Station
Bus 25 86 145 147 169 W19

We urge Redbridge council to look carefully at the needs of this young family who have a child with hypermobility needs. They want to move forward with their lives in a positive way. Bianca’s child needs to remain in her school where she has completed her reception year and made friends.

Remember the council must exhaust all local possibilites first before they rehouse Bianca out of the borough.
Demand that Bianca and her children are rehoused in the local area! Email: housing.options@redbridge.gov.uk

Bianca and her children need somewhere to live near to her child's school.
Bianca and her children need somewhere to live near to her child’s school.

Lyn Brown MP says – stop ringing me. We say – stop social cleansing!

A few weeks ago we met some local residents at our street stall in Stratford. This is their housing story.

Sabrina and Matthew have two children aged 13 and 16 years – both at school in Canning Town, borough of Newham, east London.

Their private landlord sold up and they were evicted. After putting their belongings into storage and going to Bridge House (Newham council housing office), they were offered a two-bedroom home in East Ham. They were told there were a few steps up to the door as Matthew walks with a crutch, however in reality there were several flights of stairs involved. Worse still was that the property was in no fit state for anyone to move into, with vomit and blood on the furnishings. Sabrina and Matthew said no. They returned to Bridge House, pleaded to be seen and were offered a place in Luton. This is impossible for their teenagers who are in important stages of their education. Sabrina and Matthew said no. The staff at Bridge House told them they would have to go to Sabrina’s mother for two weeks – two months later they have heard nothing and are now in an overcrowded flat with Sabrina’s mother having had to refuse her offer of a downsize as the family are all there.

Sabrina’s mother contacted local MP Lyn Brown to ask for advice and support for her daughter and family. There has been no support and all she has been told by Lyn Brown’s personal assistant is to stop ringing every day. Councillors Alan Griffiths and Bryan Collier have told them to look for private-rented accommodation.

With little support from their elected representatives and unsuitable housing being offered, Sabrina has decided to take the brave step of joining others who refuse to let this housing crisis be conducted behind closed doors and to tell her story so that others can understand what families are going through in the post Olympic Labour borough of Newham under the watch of mayor Robin Wales.

Focus E15 campaign gives Sabrina, Matthew and their children our full support, we say to Newham council: keep families local to their community, their support networks and their children’s schools. Stop social cleansing and repopulate the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, where hundreds of flats still lie empty and must be filled as soon as possible with people who need housing.

Sabrina and family will be joining us on the March against Evictions on Saturday 19 September – join us, meet 12 midday Stratford Park, West Ham Lane, E15 4PT https://www.facebook.com/events/463931240434645/

Tell Redbridge council that Bianca + 2 children need a local home.

Last Saturday on our street stall we met another young mother in urgent housing need called Bianca Ford. The private landlord is selling her home in Chadwell Heath.

Bianca and her children need somewhere to live near to her child's school.
Bianca and her children need somewhere to live near to her child’s school.

A court order has been issued and she has been given an eviction notice meaning that Bianca is now nervously waiting for the bailiffs to come knocking. Redbridge council have told her that she may be moved out of the area into Bed and Breakfast accommodation. She has to wait until she is homeless to find out, in about 4 weeks time.

Bianca Ford is an articulate  young single mother who is 23 years old. She is responsible for two children. Her youngest child is only 9 months and her oldest child is 5 and is due to start back at the local primary school in September. Her 5 year old is registered as having a disability. Having a child with health needs is one of the reason why Bianca wants to retain links to the local area so that her child can keep receiving regular treatment from the physiotherapist. If she was moved to a different borough, Bianca has been told it could take up to  8 months for her child to start receiving treatment again. Such a long waiting time would be detrimental to her child’s development.

Bianco wants to see her children thrive, to settle, to have friends and be happy. She also wants them both to grow up with the love and guidance of her wider family who live in the area. Bianca is also responsible for helping out her mother who has epileptic fits and sometimes needs Bianca to look after her. Who will help her if Bianca is moved away?

Getting news that you are going to be evicted is distressing. When her landlord told her he was going to sell her home, Bianca’s world was turned upside down. We need long term, secure social housing so people can form networks of friendship and support. Bianca has already spent time in a B&B  when she was pregnant and she does not want to return to living in temporary housing that is unsuitable for her children.

Bianca dreams about going to university, to get a job and  to help children with disabilities. As a single mother of two children, how can she apply for a university place if she does not know where she is going to be living, or if she is being moved around constantly?

We urge Redbridge council to look carefully at the needs of this young family who have a child with a disability. They want to move forward with their lives in a positive way. Bianca’s child needs to remain in her school where she has completed her reception year and made friends.

Please consider emailing Redbridge Council to highlight this case and the urgency of this family’s situation.

Please be ready to stand with Bianca when the bailiffs come. We are asking people to go to the housing office in Redbridge to support Bianca and her children during her housing meeting. Stay tuned for more updates.

Demand social housing, not social cleansing!

email: housing.options@redbridge.gov.uk

UPDATE
Please be ready to stand with Bianca outside Redbridge Housing Office on Monday 12 October. Look out for further updates

Brave Colchester family speak out about council intimidation

Earlier this month Katrina and some of her children travelled down to the stall from Colchester to get support and tell us about their housing situation there and the overcrowding they are facing at the hostel they are currently living in. We are very alarmed by the problems faced by her and other  families who have lots of children. We do not think that such families should be split up or have children taken into care. Children need security, family life and decent housing.
This is Katrina’s story
We have a relatively large family by ‘normal standards’ but at the time we had the fifth child my husband was employed and earning a very healthy wage. He was made redundant but didn’t expect it would take long to find employment. As far as we were concerned our family was big enough and  so another pregnancy was a huge surprise and to be carrying twins was a massive shock. We were living in a 3 bed private rent so knew that eventually we’d need to move to something bigger and approached the council to go on the waiting list. They told us we had to make an application for homelessness to be accepted onto the housing waiting list. We were told that if we refused to move into temporary accommodation then they wouldn’t accept us onto the housing list so we moved.
Because we resisted their bullying tactics, we made ourselves a target for punishment. One of the tactics the council tried was to tell our landlord he needed to evict us (this was to ensure we had no choice but to go to the emergency housing they had lined up for us). The day before the eviction the landlord had rung us asking if we had heard from the council  as no one was getting back to him and the last thing he wanted to do was evict us. Within hours he must have heard they weren’t going to pay him any more housing benefit and we had approx 15 hours notice before the bailiffs came knocking.
So we had to move to the hostel. After being summoned to a meeting we have been told that the council will be discharging their duty to house us yet they are still forcing us to move again no doubt to wait until the last bag/box has been unpacked to throw us out again. They are saying we will be better off in the private sector yet there aren’t any affordable rents and living in a university town means large properties make more money for landlords to let out to students.
In the hostel we are housed with other vulnerable people and this is just not suitable for families.To add to it all we have 5 girls sleeping in a room with 4 beds. We are told one will have to sleep on a mattress on the floor which wouldn’t leave any floor room for walking, let alone toys.
If you are unemployed for what ever reason you are looked down upon for being a burden on the economy and don’t deserve anything. As for housing officers feeling that people ‘like us’ are bleeding the tax payer dry all I can say is that as far as I am aware we are all tax payers (VAT). Our hopes for the future are to have stability, to know we are secure for at least a fixed amount of time so we can actually have lives and focus on work and education.
By telling our story we hope encourage others to speak out against the harsh treatments of councils, to highlight how housing officers are prepared to tell whatever lies it takes to manipulate the situation into their favour such as telling people they will only be in B&Bs for a couple of days that stretch into months. To be told you cannot appeal their decisions and to be grateful for whatever they handout! They prey on the isolation of people so it’s time people got together and exposed them for what they really are.

Stuck in limbo at Focus E15 hostel

Danila Caetano, a 22 year old with a 13 month old baby, came to the Focus E15 campaign street stall on Saturday 4 July. She  has been living at Focus E15 hostel since 2011. This hostel is where the original group of mums started the Focus E15 campaign.

This is Danila’s story.
I am a single mum. Single mums get  judged unfairly. The local authorities do not care about single mothers or their children.
Living at Focus hostel is difficult with a young child, the flat is very small and cramped. The baby does not have enough space. I am living in one room really. I have a table next to my bed where we can eat. It is dangerous for the baby and when you have repairs needed to be done it takes East Thames ages to fix it. I had no hot water for the first 6 months of my pregnancy. They don’t care.
I have suffered from depression. When you bring a child into the world you want to give her a decent life. I am so unhappy that my child is living in a cramped situation.The hostel is not suitable for children.
I have lived in Newham since 2008. I have family and friends here. I am studying at Newham college and my baby goes to nursery in Newham. I would have no support network if I was to be moved out of London. It is already hard being a single mum and I would struggle to live somewhere else.
Danila is one of many young residents of Focus E15 foyer, stuck in limbo, neither evicted nor given the support to be able to move out and fearful that they will be sent out of London as Newham continues to carry out social cleansing.
Newham Council and East Thames Housing Association need to work together to house the young people and children of Focus E15 hostel in decent, long term, affordable and appropriate housing.
Eye-witness report from Focus E15 hostel
On 25 June there was a fight that led to the reception area being covered with blood and glass.
The father of a family of four, all living in Focus E15 hostel, told Focus E15 campaign that it wasn’t until 4 July, nine days later, that the floor was cleaned. In his words:
 This shows the utter disregard that Newham Council and their business partners (East Thames and Tando) have for the residents of Focus E15 hostel. Children and families are being exposed to unhealthy conditions on a daily basis. I do not think that the place is suitable for young people to grow up in and this constitutes child cruelty of the highest order in a developed society.
Contact the following people to voice your concern:
Yvonne Arrowsmith, chief executive of East Thames – yvonne.arrowsmith@east-thames.co.uk
Terry Paul, councillor Stratford – terence_paul@hotmail.com
Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham – brownl@parliament.uk; lyn@lynbrown.org.uk
Florence Bangboye housing officer – Florence.bamgboye@newham.gov.uk
Robin Wales – Mayor of Newham -mayor@newham.gov.uk

Mum and her baby allowed to stay on in B&B

The young woman and baby who was threatened with eviction from her B&B when she refused to be moved to the outskirts of Basildon (due to racist abuse) is no longer being evicted tomorrow, Tuesday 7 July.

Her case has been highlighted by Focus E15 campaign and other eviction resistance housing activists.

Today Newham council phoned her up to say that they will continue payment for the B&B until there is a decision from her appeal.

She will keep us updated on her housing situation.
She and her baby still need to be housed in a decent long term affordable stable home.

Onwards!
Keep up the pressure!
Social Housing! Not Social Cleansing!

social housing not social cleansing

Mothers and children lives adversely affected by short term housing! Protest Friday 1pm Bridge House.

Last year, a single mother from Newham, who has 3 children, was moved by Newham council and housed outside of London in Hertfordshire. Now, over one year later, her temporary contract has ended and she has been offered yet another short term contract, but this time in another new place outside of London, in an poorly maintained house in Birmingham, which has rotting cupboards and broken gates. How many times will she be shoved from pillar to post?

This mother’s plight shows the utter insecurity of current housing policies and the disruption that is caused by social cleansing. Single mothers face enough pressure without housing insecurity thrown in on top. Their children’s lives are also being adversely affected by not having a secure and stable home environment. This is how social exclusion begins as families are unable to fully take part in their communities due to constantly having to move, they are left isolated when placed 100s of miles away from their wider family and support. Children lose friendships due to being forced to change schools time and time again.

The Focus E15 campaign supports the right of single mothers to bring up their children in a long term secure environment near to their support networks and extended families. Stop playing political football with their lives.

Please support this mother who is asking to be housed near to her support networks in London or to be left to stay in Hertfordshire where her oldest child is at school. You can give support and solidarity  for this mother at her housing appointment on Friday 29 May, 1pm. Come and stand outside Bridge House 320 Stratford High Street, Stratford E15 1EP in solidarity.

Tell Newham council that single mothers deserve our support and should not be left stranded!

Keep Us In London
Council must show that they have exhausted local possibilities before housing people outside of London

CALLOUT. Newham council worker’s teen speaks out against evictions.

Join the Focus E15 campaign this Friday to  support  Nmah Kamara, her husband and children who have been evicted from their home and face being moved out of Newham.

Friday 22 May 9.30am
Outside Bridge House
320 High Street, Stratford, London E15 1EP

One of the children writes clearly and movingly how this will effect the whole family:

image

“After a long complicated housing story we have an Eviction Notice for the 22 May 2015 to leave our present and only accommodation at 8am but with nowhere to go.
If the Council relocate me from Newham at this stage of my life I will definitely fail to complete my education which is my future due to the physical, emotional and psychological transition I have to undergo, which is also true for my sister.
I have lived in Newham since my parents moved to Britain. My mum works for Newham Council.
My sister, brother and I have completed primary and secondary schools in Newham, we are now in further education (currently busy with projects and exams) and through UCAS we have already enrolled at Universities in London starting from 2015/16 with the hope that I will still live in Newham.
We have our friends and we are well associated with our borough making it very difficult to move away without affecting our continuity of education and network support”.

Please support this family on Friday. Social Housing! Not Social Cleansing!