Young mothers who were evicted from a hostel called Focus E15 in September 2013 are occupying vacant council houses in East London. The mothers, who were told to look for accomodation on the private rental market in Manchester, Birmingham and Hastings, joined together to resist displacement and fight for “social housing not social cleansing”. The group will be holding an open meeting about the conditions of the estate (recently their water has been turned off) this Sunday 28th September.
Guardian article about the campaign by Focus E15 member Jasmin Stone http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/23/why-occupying-boarded-up-east-london-council-house-social-housing
“We are originally a group of mothers from a hostel in east London Stratford called focus E15. Focus E15 is a hostel run by East Thames housing association to accommodate young people under 25 many with support needs due to homelessness, suffering from domestic violence coming out from social services care etc. The hostel consists of 210 flats 180 single residents and 30 young mothers. All residents at the hostel follow a life skills plan completing courses and attending meetings to gain skills for the future.
On 20th august 2013 mothers were issued eviction notices from the housing association east Thames to be out of our flats by 20th October 2013. East Thames explained that Newham council had cut £41,000 of funding leading to the evictions. We questioned east Thames as to what would happen next we were simply told “ I don’t know, we will have to wait and see”.
We were all referred to Newham councils Bridge house (housing office) and was all registered officially homeless. We were told to look for private rented accommodation in MANCHESTER, HASTINGS AND BIRMINGHAM! This meant we would have no support network… our children wouldn’t know their families. We decided to FIGHT FOR WHATS RIGHT!
We began an active campaign gathering signature for our petition and wrote to the council. We met with Fight Racism Fight Imperialism who has helped us majorly since the beginning up until now. Standing side by side every week at our Saturday street stall outside Wilkinson’s on Stratford Broadway 12-2.
We began occupying the housing association and council office demanding local social housing. We shamed the council as much as possible. How could a council turn away its own residents? We met with local labour Mayor Robin Wales. A very nasty cowardly man who ran at every opportunity who refused to help us and admitted he did not like what we were doing. Robin Wales has been to cans a property market in France where billions of pounds is spent on selling homes. When questioned whether or not robin has been selling homes he once again ran away.
Newham is becoming a place for only rich! We need to stop this happening. Homes should be for living not for profit. East London is originally a place for the poor now the poor are being shunted out of London. Council homes are being deliberately abandoned and damaged by the council leading to demolition. Carpenters estate in stratford is an example of this happening decent homes being left empty for years on end. The council are not replacing these homes however but selling them off and bringing in private landlords who the build luxury apartments. Not even working people on an average wage can afford.
Since the campaign began in September 2013 mothers have had victory. We have all been rehoused in the borough. We are in fact in private rents soaring high and only in 12 moth contracts very insecure for both us and our children.
But as I’m sure you know this issue is much wider than us mothers it is effecting many people on a low or average wage or on benefits. Social cleaning needs to stop! Social housing needs to be renovated and rebuilt! We all need to unite and fight together! Stand side by side and say SOCIAL HOUSING
IS A RIGHT WE ARE HERE TO STAY AND HERE TO FIGHT!
We have had victory for the focus E15 mothers now it’s time to do it for everyone and Focus On the Future. It may not affect you now and we hope it never will however it is bound to effect someone you know. Please get involved in the campaign share our events and attended.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS TO NEVER GIVE UP! ”
Focus E15 Mothers