On 21st May, to mark the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, Focus E15 Campaign held a demonstration in Stratford to force a spotlight onto Newham council who have left empty homes boarded up on the Carpenters Estate and to make a link that the current housing crisis is having an adverse effect on people’s mental health.
Many people took the opportunity to use the open microphone. Speeches, live music, chanting and an impromptu march highlighted the link between mental health and housing insecurity. The point was also made that taking collective action is empowering and good for our mental wellbeing.
Passerby stopped to hear how people are being decanted, evicted, abandoned and forced out of their homes at catastrophic rates – currently someone in England is threatened with eviction every 90 seconds. Newham has the highest number of households in temporary accommodation of any London borough and the devastating consequences that housing conditions are having on people’s mental health should be obvious. To constantly worry that the roof over your head will not be there tomorrow is traumatic. The stress and isolation that comes from housing insecurity is causing a mental health crisis.
Dangerous and overcrowded accommodation; temporary housing, isolation from family and friends, evictions, homelessness, social cleansing, children out of school, job losses: these are the issues so many people are facing and they are making people sick. As people are evicted from their homes and socially cleansed out of London, they are not only being forced into places that are making them ill, but they are cut off from the very support networks that keep them healthy.
Thank you to everyone who stood together in our community to raise these important issues. The fight back continues. Collective action makes us stronger and gives us back our mental health! In the words of a campaigner on the day:
‘No political party has any solutions. Families are being evicted every day. People are getting ill. Children are suffering. This is a rich country but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at what is happening to the most vulnerable people and their housing. We must stand together to avoid drowning.’