First public meeting of the Focus E15 mothers’ campaign

On Saturday 12 October, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! with Focus E15 Mothers and friends, family and supporters came together at Ithaca House in Stratford, E15. It was the first public meeting of the campaign, to update everyone about the campaign so far and plan ahead.

Young mothers and mothers-to-be from Focus E15 mother and baby unit are taking action because the unit has lost £41,000 of council funding from the council and faces closure. They have been warned to start looking for accommodation and some of them have been served with eviction notices from East Thames Housing Association, which administers Focus E15.

The young mothers who have been offered accommodation by the council have been offered places in the private-rented sector outside of London, far from their family, friends and support networks and away from their community and where they have grown up.

In the last three weeks, the young mothers have been out on the streets leafleting and petitioning, and have now collected almost 500 signatures. They have met with the councillor Terry Paul and have a meeting with the local MP Lyn Brown coming up. They have also given numerous interviews to local and national press.

On 9 October, the day that the Newham Recorder carried their story on the front page, Chris Woodhead from East Thames Housing Association arrived at Focus E15 to speak to the mothers, determined to make it clear that they are sorry for any upset; that the eviction letters aren't in fact eviction letters, but necessary to set the process in motion. Two days later a letter was sent to the young mothers putting these points in writing, explaining that the council can only begin the process of offering accommodation when a notice to quit has been issued and stating that they are in discussion with the council about prioritising young mothers for accommodation, although very limited, in the borough.

These apologies ring hollow. Newham is a borough where £9.2billion was spent on the Olympics and where whole blocks of new private flats stand empty. The mayor earns £80,000 and the council has wasted £111 million on a new building that is no longer going to house all the council workers it was intended to.

The demands of the young mothers came out clearly at the public meeting: No eviction from Focus E15; suitable, permanent, social housing in London, not in the private-rented sector; and all discussions and negotiations to be held with all the affected mothers present.

While the ConDem government makes savage cuts, the rotten Labour councils are implementing them. The Focus E15 Mothers, by coming together to publicise their case and take a stand, are acting in the interest of us all. We must not let the system isolate us from each other.

Join us at 1pm on Wednesday 16 October to demonstrate outside Bridge House, Newham Housing Options Centre, 320 Stratford High Street, E15 1EP, and on Saturday 19 October, 12-2pm street rally with petitioning and leafletting on the Broadway (outside Wilkinson's) E15 and then an organising meeting at 3pm at Ithaca House, 27 Romford Road, E15 4LJ.

Labour council hear us say! Focus mums are here to stay!

 

London branches

North London
020 7837 1688
northlondonfrfi@gmail.com

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