Tag Archives: homeslessness

Response to Newham Council on their offer to house 10 refugee families

On our street stall recently Focus E15 campaigners met Ibrahim, a refugee who was left to sleep on the streets of the borough of Newham for months due to the inadequacy of the council and their unwillingness to give refugees and other residents in the borough stable, secure housing. Unfortunately it is clear that Ibrahim’s story is not an isolated case.

A crisis in housing has been unfolding for decades and is only set to get worse when the Immigration Bill  comes into law later this year. This Bill proposes to build on the measures in the Immigration Act and to extend document checks by landlords and banks to stop undocumented migrants from renting housing or opening a bank account. Landlords could have the powers to evict migrants without a court order making the present situation even worse.

Focus E15 campaigners meet the incredible Asylum Clinic in West London
Focus E15 campaigners meet the incredible Asylum Clinic in West London

The Focus E15 campaign believes that the recent request from the government to every council, asking them to house 10 Syrian refugee families, is not only inadequate, but shameful when the reason so many refugees from around the world have had to flee their homes is due to the wars waged in the interests of,(and financed by) our capital and country. We encourage people to stand together, as humans, to say 10 families per council is not enough. If our local council, Newham in East London really wanted to help refugees, they should rehouse people on the Carpenters Estate where 400 flats have been boarded up for several years.

We are demanding safe and secure housing for all who need it! So councils in London, in solidarity with people around the world needing safe stable homes, it is your responsibility to open the 22,000 empty homes in the capital and immediately start rehousing people.

Focus E15 campaign will be present at the demonstration for refugees in central London on Saturday 12 September. Please join us there.

UPDATE
We have recently heard that Ibrahim has now been given shelter in a hostel.This is because after passing our street stall he had the confidence to go to the housing office and not move until he was offered housing! Although a hostel is not ideal, it is safer and warmer than the streets. There are 100s of other like him who need support today. Please consider supporting the work of the  Hackney Migrant Centre or RAMFEL (Refugee and Migrant Forum in Essex and East London)
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Refugee left on the streets by Newham Council + racist private landlords. Who can help Ibrahim now?

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Last Saturday on our street stall we met a refugee called Ibrahim. He wanted to tell us his story. This is what he said:

When I first got to London I was put into home office accommodation called NASS which is based in Newham. I stayed there from September 2014 – April 2015 whilst the Home Office decided if they would give me refugee status.  Once this status was granted, I was given 28 days to leave, open a bank account, find a home, etc. It took me a long time to open a bank account even though I had all the official documents and support from the Refugee Council.  This meant I could not get any benefits, so I was alone without money, without a job, no national insurance number and no roof over my head.

The Refugee Council gave me an official letter stating that I was completely homeless, and with this I went to Newham Council who told me to come back at 9 am the next day.  I made sure I slept rough close by that night, so I was first in line at the housing office in the morning, and I started queuing at 7am.  When they met me, they got me a translator and took down my story.  They took my contact details, gave me a ‘Housing Options’ letter which listed 3 hostels, and said they would be in touch.  I went to the hostels straight away, but they had no space for me, so I waited for the phone call from the council.

After 2 weeks, I wondered why no one had rang me.  It turns out at the previous meeting, the council had written my phone number down wrong. No one apologised to me for this.  They gave me another letter, but there was no translator present this time so I didn’t understand what it meant – my friend read it for me later and it said they acknowledged that I was street homeless, but that they would not offer me housing.  They told me to look for private accommodation.

My friend phoned one of the hostels up a few weeks ago on my behalf, and they said they had been trying to get in touch with me as a space had opened there, but because the council had not corrected the wrong phone number on their system, I never got the message.  I was told by the hostel that  if my friend hadn’t rang up that day I would be completely off their records.

I try to look for private accommodation, but it is a struggle as deposits are very high and many landlords don’t take DSS.  I got close to getting a room once but they heard my voice, and because I have trouble speaking English, they refused to go any further. To get private accommodation I have to save for a deposit, but it is hard to get a job when you are sleeping on the streets and have no address – people don’t employ you.  I also have to get an English speaking friend who has a ‘good accent’ to phone landlords, as they don’t accept me when I phone.

 I have now been street homeless for 5 months, with no end in sight.  I try and sleep during the day in a park near the Olympic stadium, and keep awake all night for safety.  When it rains I sleep in the police station.  I walk very far each day. I have to get to my college course and to work training courses.  I have no income aside from money the Refugee Council can afford to give me from their petty cash – sometimes £10 a week, sometimes £20.  I struggle as I have to top my phone up a lot to call landlords, so don’t eat much.  I try to stay clean and well dressed to get a job, and wash in the local Mosque, which they allow as I am Muslim.

Focus E15 campaign stands with Ibrahim in his fight for housing. Many refugees face escalated difficulties and racism and get very little support from anyone. Currently Ibrahim sleeps on the streets near the Olympic Park whilst homes lie empty on the Carpenters Estate, and many other places around London.  It is unacceptable for any Council to fail to support the most vulnerable in their borough, including refugees.
Ibrahim’s  words were translated for us by the Asylum Clinic, who we met with Ibrahim whilst they passed our stall, after getting basic supplies for their clinic to help Refugees.
 
Please share Ibrahim’s story on Facebook and twitter. Tweet and demand action from Newham Labour Council @newhamlondon
 

URGENT ACTION: No to homelessness! Tell Redbridge council to house the vulnerable.

On our street stall on Saturday 6 June 2015 we were approached by a young man of 22 years old called Azam. His story below illustrates just one of many who are now homeless. He is asking for support at his housing meeting in Ilford on Monday 8th June at 2.30pm, at the Housing Office, 28-42 Clements Rd, Ilford IG1 1BA. Please come and tell Redbridge council that no one should be left without a home.

Azam’s story  
“My family disowned me and threw me out of  my family home when I was 17. I had mental health issues and was seen by a psychiatric team. A social worker helped me to get a room in a hotel. I stayed there for 4 months. I then moved into supported housing due to mental health issues but the housing was difficult due to the mix of people there. I had a diagnosis of bi polar at the time. An incident occurred and a fight broke out and I was imprisoned.
I lost my supported housing at Genesis  because I was put in prison for 3 months.I had no support from the prison services to get rehoused when they let me out.

I came out of prison in March 20th 2015 and I have been homeless ever since. It is scary not having a secure home. I felt suicidal and did not know what I was going to do. I have been trying to get into hostels but nothing ever works out. I think the housing situation is making me unwell. I would  like a room of my own that is safe and secure and not too expensive.

I use to work and want to find a job. My hopes for the future including getting a job as a graphic designer but I can only do this in I have somewhere to live.

David Cameron promises to cut down on homelessness but the state of London is not acceptable. Not matter what has happened to people everyone deserves a place to live that is secure and stable.”

Please support Azam at his housing meeting on Monday 8th June at 2.30pm, at the Housing Office, 28-42 Clements Rd, Ilford IG1 1BA. Bring your banners and tell Redbridge council that homelessness is not acceptable!

Azam pictured in the center of the picture supporting our demands for social housing
Azam pictured in the center of the picture supporting our demands for social housing for all!