Our dear friend and comrade Ella Bradbury (know more widely as Ellie), died on Friday 6 September at the age of 29 in Mexico city. This deeply sad news is a great shock and immense loss to Focus E15 campaigners.We send our love and condolences to Ella’s parents, her 3 brothers and to her wider family and friends and welcome anyone at any point to our weekly Saturday street stall 12-2pm Statford Broadway to remember Ella together.
Ella first made contact with Focus E15 campaign in May 2015 when she was studying for her Masters in International Politics and Human Rights at City University. She was researching the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo from Buenos Aires in Argentina, a group of mothers that stood up to the 1976-1983 military dictatorship under which 30,000 people disappeared. These women refused to give up their fight to establish the truth about what had happened to their ‘disappeared’ children, who had been taken by force by the military and brutally murdered for being leftists. Ella was interested in exploring the links between the construction of motherhood, resistance and the fight against punitive governments by way of a comparative study between the group of mothers from Argentina and the Focus E15 mothers in London. After writing a warm and enthusiastic introduction about her research, Ella came along to meet the campaign at the street stall.
Ella’s integrity was immediately apparent and she gained the trust of campaigners and began the task of undertaking first hand research through the use of informal interviews, participant observation and by regularly attending street stalls,actions and meetings.She ensured that those at the heart of her research were always treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Her final MA, for which she won the prize for the best dissertation on her course, was entitled Mothers that Misbehave:An anarchist approach to explore the significance of ‘motherhood’ in two social movements; the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo and the Focus E15 Mothers.
Ella’s dissertation explores two different struggles, at different times, in different continents and she highlights some similarities, for example unpolitical actors turning into political actors, initial campaign demands that were neither contentious nor extreme but relate to basic human rights, the lack of appropriate response from those in authority, the regular presence on the streets, the growth and widening of the struggle, the fight against negative stereotypes about motherhood and women, and the growing understanding that a change of government or elected leaders of this current system may not provide solutions and can bring disappointment.
After she finished her research Ella took the principled decision to stay fighting with the campaign. Her commitment and passion led her to being asked to join the campaign’s organising body where she took a lead role in working with those at the forefront of the housing crisis, supporting mothers who had been sent out of London to Welwyn Garden City. She took part in several key actions against corruption in Newham council and stood against the racist media stereotyping of blaming migrants for the housing crisis. Ella also dedicated time to the less glamorous tasks of campaigning, recognising that submitting funding applications, answering emails, sorting out finance were also important to keeping a campaign going. Ella was centrally involved in fundraising which ensured the campaign could develop an office base in East London – and Sylvia’s Corner is still going strong.
Ella used her warmth, friendliness and sense of fun to bond with children and young people. She recognised that if mothers were to be consistently involved with political work then childcare had to be seen as a political necessity. She pushed the idea of the campaign having an ‘inclusivity fund’ so that noone struggling due to a lack of money was turned away from campaigning. Unbeknownst to herself, Ella Bradbury showed us all the meaning of the word comrade in myraid ways. She was disciplined, accountable, collective and reliable, and together we shared enthusiasm and fun in the serious struggle for a more just society. She always did what she said she would do, was always where she said she would be, attended meetings and actions, helped organise and educate, and demonstrated to everyone the strength of her convictions which inspired others to emulate her.
Ella’s determination and principled spirit will be called upon time and time again and will be with us in every significant struggle and fight for justice that lies ahead. We raise our voices to say – Long live Ella! Viva Ella! A true friend, comrade and warrior woman.
Below is a slide show of pictures of Ella, many of which show her involvement with the campaign.