« | Home | »

Occupy Newham

Tags: | |

Last Tuesday a group of 29 young mothers and mothers-to-be occupied an East Thames Housing Association show flat in protest against their prospective eviction from the Focus E15 Foyer, a hostel that provides temporary social housing and training to young people in Newham. Some of the Focus E15 Mothers have been there for more than three years. Six months ago, the women were served an eviction notice following a council decision to cut £41,000 of funding for the Foyer and its purpose-built single-parent units. The only alternative offered to them was private rental accommodation in Hastings, Birmingham or Manchester, far from their families, friends, jobs, colleges and children’s schools.

If they refused the offer, they would be judged to have made themselves ‘intentionally homeless’, alleviating Newham Council of the responsibility to find them permanent accommodation. They would have no help with deposits, scant protection from rising rents and eviction, and none of the key support and training that the foyer until recently provided. ‘This life is stressful,’ one of the mothers says in the online petition. ‘I understand why people take their lives.’ Nearby, the Carpenters Estate stands mostly empty, boarded-up, waiting for a private buyer to redevelop it. Overlooking it is an Olympic stadium still plastered with the promise to ‘Inspire a Generation’. More than 24,000 households are on the waiting list for social housing in Newham.

Women are on the front line of austerity. More likely to be in low-paid precarious work, more likely to have dependents, women are more reliant on increasingly meagre state welfare and public services. A recent report from the Women’s Budget Group details how women are disproportionately affected by budget cuts, with single mothers losing an average 15.6 per cent of their disposable income, compared to 11.7 per cent for single fathers and 9.7 per cent for couples with children.

‘To that single mother struggling and working her heart out for her children,’ David Cameron said in 2010, ‘we can now say: “We’re on your side.”’ Not any more. If plans to deprive under-25s of housing benefit go ahead, nearly half of those affected – 171,000 people – will be single parents.

Single mothers – routinely demonised in the right-wing press as feckless, fecund and incompetent, their palatial houses evidence of the indulgence and injustice of the welfare state – may look like an easy target. But ‘you’re not tearing us apart from our families,’ the Focus E15 Mothers have said. ‘We’re fighters.’ The housing association now says there is no immediate threat of eviction from the Foyer. The group will be holding a public meeting next weekend.

Comments on “Occupy Newham”

  1. andriae4@gmail.com says:

    I’m also a lone Mum…and this news is hugely inspiring. May the force be with these women…I think I might just go over to Newham and see if I can support them somehow

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.

  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • name on Who is the enemy?: Simply stating it is correct doesn't make it so, I just wish you would apply the same epistemic vigilance to "Muslim crimes" as you do to their Hebrew...
    • Glen Newey on Unwinnable War: The legal issue admits of far less clarity than the simple terms in which you – I imagine quite sincerely – frame them. For the benefit of readers...
    • Geoff Roberts on The New Normal: The causes go back a long way into the colonial past, but the more immediate causes stem from the activities of the US forces in the name of freedom a...
    • sol_adelman on The New Normal: There's also the fact that the French state denied the mass drownings of '61 even happened for forty-odd years. No episode in post-war W European hist...
    • funky gibbon on At Wembley: If England get France in the quarter finals of Euro 16 I expect that a good deal of the fraternity will go out the window

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Edward Said: The Iraq War
    17 April 2003

    ‘This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology.’

    David Runciman:
    The Politics of Good Intentions
    8 May 2003

    ‘One of the things that unites all critics of Blair’s war in Iraq, whether from the Left or the Right, is that they are sick of the sound of Blair trumpeting the purity of his purpose, when what matters is the consequences of his actions.’

    Simon Wren-Lewis: The Austerity Con
    19 February 2015

    ‘How did a policy that makes so little sense to economists come to be seen by so many people as inevitable?’

    Hugh Roberts: The Hijackers
    16 July 2015

    ‘American intelligence saw Islamic State coming and was not only relaxed about the prospect but, it appears, positively interested in it.’

Advertisement Advertisement