December events! HASL fundraiser and end of year celebration


We’ve got a benefit gig and an end of year celebration happening in December! We hope you can join us and get involved. Save the dates and bring your friends, family and neighbours!

HASL fundraiser with bands, cake and other good stuff on Friday 4th December 8pm, location in Surrey Quays/Rotherithe.

Then it’s the London Coalition Against Poverty end of year celebration that we’re hosting on Saturday 12th December 12pm-5pm in Walworth, Elephant and Castle. Delicious, nutritious food, social, and kids activities. Eat together, fight together!

It’d be great if people have time to help out running these events – if you do – come to our next meeting, or drop us an email –

For the LCAP end of year celebration we need extra help with –

Organising and running kids activities on the day

Collecting food donations from local shops (we’ll organise teams in our local areas and do collections together)

Cooking on the day

Leafleting the local area

If you’d be up for helping, get in touch!!

HASL poster colour

HASL guide to gatekeeping

What is gatekeeping?

Gatekeeping is when people are denied the help, services and support they are legally entitled to by council staff employing different tactics to turn us away and make us give up. Gatekeeping is very common is housing offices when people go to make homeless applications and also in social services when people try to access housing help.

Southwark housing office has a particularly bad reputation for gatekeeping. In February, a High Court judge ordered Southwark council ‘to cease with immediate effect the policies and practices’ which had seen a homeless family refused help by the council and told to look for their own accommodation in the private sector.  In May, a homeless man, Mr Kanu, who had been denied help by Southwark council, won in the Supreme Court where the judge ruled that Mr Kanu was entitled to housing. Sadly, Mr Kanu died shortly after this victory. Despite these legal cases, we know that Southwark housing office still continues to gatekeep homeless people.

What does it mean? What are the impacts?

The effects of gatekeeping are to keep vulnerable homeless people homeless or in unsafe, overcrowded housing.  It denies them the immediate housing help they need and their place on the housing register so that they might eventually access secure social housing.

Charities are predicting a particularly bad winter with high street homelessness this year with gatekeeping playing a role in this.

Women trying to escape violence have nowhere safe to go.

For the housing office, it means that their homelessness statistics are kept low so that the true scale of homelessness is hidden.

How do you spot it?

Housing office staff say things like: “I can tell you now, you are intentionally homeless”

“You need to bring more evidence before we can start a homeless application and give you interim housing.”

“We can’t help you, you need to find your own housing in the private sector.”

“You’re not homeless until the bailiffs evict you.”

“If you have a roof, then you are not homeless.”

“If they have a pulse, then they’re not vulnerable”

How can we challenge it?

London Coalition Against Poverty has been going since 2007 and is made up of local groups who meet up and provide support and action on each others housing issues. LCAP groups have long been challenging gatekeeping at their local housing offices by:

Making sure that people know their rights

Providing buddies for each other to attend the housing office together

Visiting the housing office as a big group and refusing to leave until a homeless application has been accepted.

Regular leafleting outside housing offices to talk to people about their rights and the housing group and local campaigns and actions challenging gatekeeping at a local housing office.


Don’t struggle alone! It’s easy for them to turn one person away, but if we stand up for each other, we can fight for the support and services that we all need and deserve. We welcome you to get involved and help us organise more ways to challenge gatekeeping.


We’ve stopped the eviction, now Southwark – stop trying to make people homeless!


This morning over 50 local people came together to stop the eviction of Aminata and her family from their temporary accommodation by Southwark council. Even though bailiffs had told the family they would arrive at 8am, they had coordinated beforehand with police to evict them at 11am. Lots of people returned to scupper the bailiffs plans and prevent the eviction. Another important win with collective action!

The eviction attempt was being watched over by the head of temporary housing at Southwark Council. He refused to speak to Sky News about why he had come to watch a family get evicted by police and bailiffs and he offered no solution that did not result in further homelessness for Animata and her family.

This was gross behaviour from Southwark council – calling police and bailiffs on local residents and using their staff time to come and watch a family be turfed onto the street. We were able to stop the bailiffs today but Aminata and her family were served with a court notice that puts them under 24/7 threat of eviction – another sickening move by the council. Southwark council need to stop this threat, drop their ‘intentionally homeless’ decision and continue to house the family until suitable social housing is given to them.

Why are Southwark council trying to make people who are already homeless, homeless again?

Aminata and her family, like all of us, needs secure, truly affordable and quality social housing. We must keep the pressure on Southwark council to drop their claims on ‘intentionally homeless’ and to continue to house the family until suitable social housing is provided.

Join us tweeting Southwark council and Councillor for housing Richard Livingstone.

Help us to organise an action to show our support for the family and tell Southwark council that no one is intentionally homeless! Get in touch and keep a watch on our website and social media.

Eviction resistance callout! – Breakfast not Bailiffs


7.30am Tuesday 13th October at 51 Benhill Road, Elmington Estate, Camberwell SE5 7QY

A family are facing eviction this Tuesday morning in Camberwell. This is the second time Southwark council are trying to throw the family on the street and have caused enormous stress for them. We stopped the bailiffs the first time and we can do it again – with your help and support! With enough people standing in the way we can stop the eviction.

But resisting the eviction isn’t enough. Southwark council must drop their claim that the family is ‘intentionally homeless’ – which is their excuse for evicting the family and getting rid of the legal duty they have to house them. We know that no one is intentionally homeless and we must make Southwark see that too! In this case it looks like the council have dragged up events from 2012 in desperation to prevent the family from accessing the help Southwark should be providing.

This family has been in temporary accommodation for years, Southwark should be providing them with stable, secure, council housing – not pushing them into further homelessness.

Bring yourself, your friends, neighbours – we’ll bring the breakfast! If you can’t make it on the day, please support us online on the day by retweeting and tweeting Southwark council to keep the family housed.

As we said, the eviction resistance will be the first action – there will be more until the family are guaranteed their homelessness duty with the intentionally homeless threat removed. Please join us!

Stop another social housing sell off! Join our twitter storm this Friday.

This Friday, housing associations will vote on whether to go ahead with selling off their/our social housing under an extended Right to Buy. Only, the decision has been made already. Either housing associations vote YES and allow their social housing stock to be sold off, or the government plans to push this Right to Buy of Housing Association homes through Parliament.

Thatcher’s original Right to Buy decimated social housing, contributing to the huge housing crisis we now face. There is massive demand for quality, secure, social housing but housing associations and the government are looking to sell-off the little we have left.

As a group of homeless people, badly and precariously housed people, and social housing tenants, this proposed sell-off affects us all. We totally oppose any sell-off of social housing. Many of us are in desperate need of quality, secure, social housing in our communities.

As part of these plans, the discount given to tenants to buy their housing association home will be paid for by the sell-off of COUNCIL HOUSING. We expect that council housing in Lambeth and Southwark (areas that now have become incredibly valuable) will be under threat for selling off to pay for discounts to help with the sell-off of housing association homes. This means more social cleansing as council homes in high value areas will be lost – meaning poor people can no longer live here.

We probably can’t stop the housing associations voting YES this Friday, lots of them have made their minds up already – but we will continue to organise, take action, and make our voices heard in our communities to make the sell-off as difficult as possible.

Twitter storm this Friday anyone? Are you a social housing tenant or someone in housing need? Angry at social cleansing and profiteering private landlords? Why not let your council and the housing associations know your opposition to the Housing Association Right to Buy this Friday as the Housing Associations go to vote. You can contact them on social media, and be sure to include us @housingactionsl.


Disrepair and Disrespect – Struggling with Southwark Council

We’ve been documenting the unacceptable, and often unlawful, ways in which Southwark Council treats those it has a duty of care to for some time now. This pattern of behaviour becomes increasingly and unsettlingly familiar with each new case we encounter.

Recently, L approached HASL. She has been living with her family in social housing provided by Southwark for 22 years. L has been battling with Southwark Council for the entire time – to try and get essential repair work done on the property and to be treated with respect. In attempting to make Southwark realise the severity of the problems, L has received backing from solicitors and a number of experts regarding the problems within the property. The family have been repeatedly moved out of the property for “repairs to be made” only to return to the same problems and the same poor attitude from Southwark. Attempts to make the property safe have been met with inadequate offers of alternative accommodation and coercion from Southwark.

L sought the advice and support of a new solicitor who progressed to presenting court proceedings to get the disrepair addressed. In the end, L made a successful bid for another property nearby. On moving into her new property, unfortunately a few snagging repairs requirements are outstanding – an issue we’re now working together to try and solve.

L believes, as do we, that no-one should have to face this kind of treatment. Everyone deserves access to secure and safe housing, and it should be the absolute minimum requirement that housing providers should treat their tenants with a sense of basic decency and respect. Instead, L who already faces the stress and complication of long term chronic health conditions has been met with intimidation, racist and classist prejudice and an irrevocable, irreparable and unfair service. We will be working together to make sure Southwark Council are held accountable for their behaviour in dealing with L’s housing situation.

Many of the problems we’ve encountered with Southwark Council are not isolated to individuals. Are you a Southwark council tenant facing similar issues of disrepair or mistreatment? These are conditions no-one should be expected to face, and they definitely shouldn’t have to be faced alone.

Get in touch – Come along to one of our meetings, or come share some food with us on Sunday at our lunch club. Over the last 2 years, we’ve demonstrated that we can win better housing, when we do it together. Join your local housing action group! 

HASL get member housed back in her community!


Yesterday morning, about thirty HASL members and ESOL group English for Action, visited Southwark council’s town hall in support of our member Ruth and her family who had been housed by the council all the way out in Woolwich.

This accommodation was far away from their school, community and work places. To get to school her children had to travel on 3 buses for 2 hours, and then they had to do this after school to get home again. That’s 20 hours commuting each week on 30 buses! This was having an extremely negative impact on the children’s education and well being. Everyone needs and deserves decent housing in their community. We won’t let people be forced out.

We went to demand ‘A home near school’ and after a short time in the town hall’s lobby – where we played Twister, Jenga, and talked with staff about the housing crisis and our group – we were told that alternative temporary accommodation on the Aylesbury estate* had been found for the family. Ruth was relieved and happy at the outcome, as we all are that Ruth and her family are now back home.

But it shouldn’t take 30 people occupying the town hall for homeless people and families to be treated well and provided with suitable temporary accommodation. And we were appalled by one housing managers comments when we asked him why no furniture (no beds!) was provided in the accommodation – “it’s got a roof, it’s liveable”. We doubt he’d call this liveable if it were provided for him and his family. This is no standard or way to treat homeless people.

We want to challenge the poor treatment and provision for homeless people in Southwark and fight social cleansing! Get involved in HASL to help us do this!

Thank you to everyone who came and supported Ruth. Don’t struggle alone! Together we can win!

*The Aylesbury estate is in the process of ‘regeneration’ (demolition of council housing and its replacement with unaffordable private housing = social cleansing). Secure tenants are being moved/forced out leaving perfectly habitable flats empty. Southwark is using some of these flats to house homeless people (and collect rent from them!).  This seems sensible enough as it keeps people in their home borough (and makes Southwark council money). We oppose the demolition of the Aylesbury estate and support all residents and locals who are fighting for it. Check out Fight for the Aylesbury for more information and action.