Newham’s single mums fight against housing crisis

Ben Gray, Focus E15 mothers campaigner. / Photo Credit: Jelena Korallo
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A single mother’s movement has helped expose the reality of the housing crisis in London boroughs and the way local governments deal with the issue.

Newham’s residents won the battle against local council and defended the right to stay in their homes, however, campaigns continues to improve the residents lives.

Jasmine Stone, 21, was asked by Newham authorities to leave her home and move to Birmingham, Manchester or Hastings. The young woman didn’t give up her house and the life she and her child are used to having. Therefore, Stone and more than 25 other single mums organised a campaign called “FocusE15 mothers”.


Russell Brand With Focus E15 mothers campaigners. / Photo Credit: FocusE15 Mothers (Facebook)
Russell Brand With Focus E15 mothers campaigners. / Photo Credit: FocusE15 Mothers (Facebook)

The movement stands up against unfair and unreasonable constriction of moving working class people from their houses.

Newham authorities force people to move outside London explaining that there are no homes for them. There are however hundreds of empty potential homes in a borough left abandoned.

“This is the tactic they use. They let an empty building deteriorate, so they have an excuse to demolish it and build new private housing,” says Jack Tomlinson, Focus E15 campaigner.

Tomlinson is working and studying comparative literature. He takes it as his political duty to go against the unfair system and change the way this country deals with issues.

He added that there is an old couple in Newham who had been asked by local authorities to separate or to move outside London, as the council did not have a home for both of them.

The FocusE15 campaign proved that the problem is not the lack of homes, but the lack of homes for the poor and working class people.

The reopen of forty homes in Carpenters estate in Newham was another important FocusE15’s victory.

It took over two weeks of political occupation of the empty building to achieve that result.

Without water, as local council turned it off, but with a great support of neighbourhood: “People brought us water in big cans, which was very lovely of them,” says Tomlinson.


Ben Gray, Focus E15 mothers campaigner. / Photo Credit: Jelena Korallo
Jack Tomlinson, Focus E15 mothers campaigner. / Photo Credit: Jelena Korallo

This direct action aimed to make Focus E15’s political point. “All these parties say they will build this and that amount of new homes. You don’t even need to create so many new houses, just stop destroying council estates. Reopen ones already here. That’s the solution. We don’t want affordable housing, because actually it is not,” Tomlinson added.

In terms of affordable housing The London Assembly member Stephen Knight said that there is almost no chance for young and working people to be able to buy a home, unless they are extraordinary well paid.

After successful Carpenters occupation Focus E15 gain a great support and coverage across the world. Japanese and Swedish TV as well as BBC, Channel 4 and ITV came to interview them.

Russell Brand was one of the famous Focus E15 visitors. He brought press and attention to the single mother’s movement. “I think Russell Brand is doing a very important work for the movement in this country in a very radical way. He does things other people are not willing to do, however, on my opinion, he doesn’t go far enough politically,” said campaigner Jack Tomlinson.


Russell Brand With Focus E15 mothers campaigners. / FocusE15 Mothers (Facebook)
Russell Brand With Focus E15 mothers campaigners. / FocusE15 Mothers (Facebook)

Focus E15 mainly takes measures against Newham council’s actions. When the party is a monopolist, MPs and mayor can do whatever they want. They don’t even have to pretend they have interest in working class people. There is no one to challenge them”, added Tomlinson.

Focus E15, confronted the Mayor of Newham, Robin Wales in July 2014. They came to his show with leaflets, sound system and proclaimed what he is doing wrong.

The Mayor’s respond was negative. “Security and police came down on us very hard. Robin Wales started to shout on us, saying that we are destroying family day. Ironically, he didn’t realise that there are many families out there who would also like to celebrate here, but he moved them outside London”, says Tomlinson.

Focus E15 campaigners faced negative responses to their actions from local councils.

Local resident and single mothers’ movement’s supporter, Kevin Blowe, submitted a formal complaint. Newham’s mayor was found guilty of breach of code of conduct.

The fight for Any attempts to get Newham’s Council or the Mayor’s statements the housing situation and the issues with Focus E15 mothers campaign failed. Local government’s press office said that they are not going to comment on this event and they are also too busy to give interviews for students. There is no response from any of Newham councilors.

Changes in local councils and government continues.

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