On Wednesday 28 October, join Focus E15 campaign at the King Edward VII pub on the Broadway in Stratford, London E15 for East London Night of Resistance, co-hosted with East London Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism and East London Radical Assembly.
At the end of the night, we will be going to Stratford Mall to give support to the homeless people of Stratford who seek warmth and shelter and who are increasingly being moved on by police and security, as gentrification and social cleansing take hold of post-Olympic Stratford. Bring sleeping bags, thermos flasks and solidarity.
While the Carpenters Estate in Stratford has over 400 empty council homes, homelessness is on the increase. As if this scandal wasn’t bad enough, Newham is amongst the 15 least affordable areas for private renting in the country and has one of the worst records in London for rehousing people out of the borough. Last year it moved 423 homeless families out of London altogether.
Join us in the pub from 8pm and then on the streets to help build the resistance.
Focus E15 campaign will be showing a short film called Squatters which is about housing issues in London in the 1970s.
There could even be a bar room sing-along!Please join our campaigners at the end of the evening when we will be leaving together to show solidarity with the homeless in Newham with a mass sleep out. For the most up to date information see the facebook event page
We will be asking for donations to cover the cost of this event.
A march against evictions awoke the heart of Stratford in the East End of London last Saturday when local people, political groups and campaigns took to the streets to demand decent housing for all. The march was militant, diverse and empowering, full of noise, speeches and lively chants. It was led by the original Focus E15 mothers and their families plus others who face being shoved out of London due to a manufactured housing crisis. A local mother, Bianca Ford who is being evicted with her children on October 12 in Redbridge said she had never been on a march before but marching with others who care about housing issues had given her the confidence to speak out. Afterwards she said that the march had been a ‘real buzz’. Residents from the Focus E15 hostel were also uplifted by the gathering of people and felt like they could speak out about their current housing fears. This shows that our active solidarity brings courage to people, inspiring them to take action.
Ghassem from Asylum Clinic spoke about migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and the racism and discrimination they face in housing. Class War stormed into Foxtons letting agency, drawing attention to rip off house prices, agency fees and high rents. They were congratulated for taking this action by many on the march. People also became angry and vocal when we passed by Bridge House, Newham’s homelessness housing office: a homemade banner was hung over the entrance demanding Newham Labour council stop social cleansing. Squatters rights were also championed and Sisters Uncut made the links between housing security and the importance of fighting against domestic violence.
Newham Labour Party was criticised for its role in the housing crisis and comrades in the Revolutionary Communist Group were on the megaphone when the march passed by a boarded up Newham Labour Party office.There was no one to be seen, perhaps they were hiding behind the boards…
The march finished up on the Carpenters estate because 3 tower blocks on the estate are still virtually empty. 400 flats have been left to rot by Newham labour party in the middle of one of the worst housing crisis this country has seen in a long time and one that continues to affect the most vulnerable people in our communities. Both Sam and Jasmin from the campaign spoke about the actions the campaign has taken to place the housing crisis on the political agenda in Newham and beyond. They then untied 100s of balloons which symbolized the 50,000 people who have been forced to move out of borough (in London) during the past 3 years.
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.
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.
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)
Below is our response that we are sending to the Newham Recorder regarding their recent articleand the outrageous comments from council spokespeople about Focus E15 campaigners. Please also scroll down to watch the latest video about the Mayors Newham show.
Dear Newham Recorder,
The spokespeople from Newham council were clearly not in the park judging by their comments. We did not go ‘with the sole intention of disrupting this fun day, causing upset to families with…aggressive and confrontational behaviour’. We went to talk to people and to give out leaflets, hardly an aggressive crime in a public park. As Ben Geraghty from the campaign, quoted in your article says, our ‘intention was to raise awareness’.
In fact we barely had time to talk to anyone before we were rounded on by aggressive APS security staff, who snatched away our leaflets and placards before herding, dragging and pushing us out of the park. The video which shows this action has now been seen by over 14,000 people on facebook.
The security staff certainly did not evict us to ‘ensure the safety of the members of the public’ or because of any ‘threatening behaviour’ on our part. Such council statements are an attempt to draw attention away from the aggression shown by their security. Everyone we spoke to inside the Newham Show showed great interest and support for the campaign because the housing crisis in Newham is affecting so many people.
Focus E15 campaign wanted to leaflet people attending the Mayor’s Newham Show to let them know the facts about Newham: Labour Mayor Robin Wales is an unashamed advocate of gentrification, a supporter of sanctioning and kicking out the poor and most vulnerable. Under his rule, over 400 homes on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford remain empty and around the borough many more homes are boarded up, while homeless people whom the council has a statutory duty to house, are forced out of London.
The security staff were told to remove us as quickly as possible to prevent us giving out information to people and to stop Robin Wales being embarrassed again. Last year, at the same event, Mayor Robin Wales himself was so physically and verbally aggressive to members of the Focus E15 campaign, that it was taken up by the Newham Standards Committee, and their investigation concluded with him being found guilty of a breach of the code of conduct.
Outrageously the council distributed their own leaflets at the Newham Show which read ‘£50m, that’s how much the council has to save next year’ and council employees were going around asking people what services should be cut. This is a council that sides with big business, banks and property speculators, while cutting social housing and continuing a policy of social cleansing.
We should remember that Newham has one of the highest rates of poverty of any London borough and, since 2012/13, it also has one of the highest levels of LOBO (Lender Option Borrower Option) loan debt in the country. Newham has spent £563m on borrowing money which in turn has generated huge interest repayments: the council owes over £40m in LOBO debt and this is likely to rise. For some reason, Newham council have refused to disclose the loan contracts when requested to under the FOI Act.
Services for the people of Newham should not be cut. Focus E15 campaign will not be silenced by aggressive security staff. We will continue to highlight the housing crisis in Newham and side with all those in housing need.
This video shows more footage from the Mayor’s Newham Show:
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.
Keep up the pressure!
Social Housing! Not Social Cleansing!
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.
“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!
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!
On 13 April, Jasmin Stone of Focus E15 campaign was arrested on suspicion of squatting in a raid organised by Newham council and police. There followed a loud and militant demonstration at the police station where she was held and she was bailed to attend a police station in mid May. We have just heard that no charges will be brought against her.
The lead up to the police and council action was Focus E15 campaign supporting Jane Wood who had lived in Newham council accommodation, east London, for almost 21 years. On 24 March she and her 14-year-old daughter were evicted by bailiffs for rent arrears resulting from complex personal and medical circumstances leading to her Employment Support Allowance being stopped. At the last minute, when her family rallied around and offered to pay the outstanding debt, the Labour council refused to take the money, call off the bailiffs or allow Jane to keep her home.
Newham council is led by Labour Mayor Robin Wales, an unashamed advocate of gentrification, supporter of sanctioning and kicking out the poor and most vulnerable. Under his rule, 400 homes on the Carpenters’ Estate remain empty, while homeless people whom the council is compelled to house are forced to move out of London.
This is an example of political policing and a targeted arrest in an attempt to silence and intimidate political activists.
We will not accept the criminalisation of those who fight for social housing and against social cleansing.
Focus E15 campaign will be celebrating this victory on the weekly Focus E15 stall this Saturday 16 May from 12-2pm on The Broadway, Stratford E15, outside Wilko’s.