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.
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.
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!
Please be ready to stand with Bianca outside Redbridge Housing Office on Monday 12 October. Look out for further updates
Newham council has withdrawn the offer of temporary accommodation in Birmingham to a single Mother of 3 and cancelled her housing appointment on Friday 29 May, therefore she does not need people to stand with her at Bridge house.
We are awaiting news as to where she will be housed next by Newham council and hope that she will now be able to settle and bring up her children with support from her wider family.
Thank you for all the messages of solidarity. We will pass them on to this family.
It is clear that people need long term and properly affordable housing.
Social housing not social cleansing! Stop sending mothers and children away from their support networks!
On 26 March housing activists from the Focus E15 campaign, HASL and FRFI joined together outside Bridge House, which is the housing office in Stratford E15 (in the London borough of Newham) to support Shelica, a homeless single mother of two. The Focus E15 campaign met Shelica at our weekly street stall in Stratford and offered to support her. She had been told she was likely to be moved out of London to Hastings and would never come back. This is Newham Labour council operating a policy of social cleansing.
Social cleansing causes a great deal of distress for the people targeted.Such a move for Shelica, away from her family and support networks would prove to be disastrous for her and her two young children, almost certainly leading to social isolation and stress. However under pressure and with publicity, the council changed its mind and realised that they could find temporary accommodation for Shelica in London after all.
See the video below with an interview with Shelica:
During the protest, all the housing activists acted peacefully and made sure that anyone going into the housing office was allowed to do so. We are extremely concerned that Bridge House decided to shut down the housing office, turning its back on Newham residents in housing need. Newham Labour council is also responsible for boarding up flats on the Carpenters Estate, which is right next to the housing office. These homes need people.