We had a thought-provoking talk from Sarah Kwei from Focus E15 mums.
Focus E15 mums started in October 2013 when 29 mums from the hostel (Focus E15) received eviction notices due to funding cuts.
Newham Council said no housing was available in Newham and they would be rehoused but up to 200 miles away. They decided to stick together and refuse this and after the protests every mother was rehoused in Newham.
The campaign continued. Things like the one year contracts that were given were not good enough with children to settle in school.
The Carpenter’s Estate was largely emptied ostensibly on the back of the Olympics but was not used and the housing remained empty so the land could be sold.
In 2014 the occupation began and the group was astonished to find that the flats although long term empty were in good, liveable condition.
The occupation was planned for two weeks and the bond of community grew.
The group had to go to court to avoid eviction before the scheduled two weeks and following this, Newham Council changed tone and said 40 homes would be given to families.
A great deal of experience has been gained and this is shared with other groups in similar situations across London in addition to marshalling eviction resistance through social media and helping families progress to a better deal.
There were many questions asked during a Q&A session following Sarah’s talk, the one that brought the biggest gasp was “How many flats remain empty on the Carpenter’s?” “About 600.”
Give support by visiting the street stall in Stratford every Saturday outside Wilkinson’s.
Sarah had hoped to show some film footage outlining their work but we were unable to arrange this, I hope to be able to give a viewable link either as a post script on here or in the newsletter.