Published on September 26th, 2014 |
by Carmela Rodriquez
Image © Copyright Geograph.org.uk
Shifting our view Eastwards
Over the past week all eyes have been on Westminster, as we follow the Scottish referendum, the fallout from the Scottish vote and Labour’s proposed 10-year plan. However, it is time to move our gaze from West London towards the east, where real-life politics are being enacted in an abandoned estate in East London.
The Carpenter estate, in Newham, has been home to a political campaign fronted by a group of 29 women, named the Focus E15 Mums. The women, who are all mums and under the age of 25, have been campaigning against eviction from the abandoned estate, which they have been using as a temporary solution for their homelessness.
The E15 crusaders were living in a hostel, for young homeless people, that was temporarily placed in the estate. Due to austerity measures, Newham council decided to cut funding for the hostel. After the announcement of the funding cut, East Thames Housing Association said the women were not permitted to live in the estate anymore, and were given an eviction notice. Adding further distress to the young mums’ lives, the council suggested relocating the women to Birmingham or Manchester, hundreds of miles away from their family, friends and community.
Newham Council had plans to flog the land which the Carpenter estate lies on, however plans fell through. There are around 600 council homes that could be lived in, yet the estate stands practically empty, despite the crippling housing crisis in the Capital. The borough of Newham has around 24,000 families and individuals waiting to be housed, alongside a high rate of homelessness.
Radicalised by the sense of injustice, the women have fronted an inspiring campaign that included storming the council offices and taking to social media. Focus E15 have been triumphant and are now allowed to stay – for the time being, while the council finds local housing for them.
Speaking on BBC Radio London, and on Twitter, it is clear that the women want to continue to raise awareness about the issue at hand. Focus E15 are fighting for a simple solution: more housing. The women are fronting a further campaign under the slogan ‘social cleansing is not a solution to social housing’ and providing an open house for members of the public to go along and find out more.
What the campaign ultimately brings to the forefront is the question of why there are empty homes when we are in the midst of a housing crisis. Undoubtedly the housing crisis will be addressed by politicians over the next few months in the lead up to the General Election in May 2015. However, how equipped are our politicians to deal with the housing crisis? For many politicians homelessness is a far-removed concept, and as the empty Carpenter estate demonstrates, it is a concept that is not being adequately addressed.
To find out more, read the Guardian’s in-depth article here and visit E15’s twitter: @FocusE15
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