Category Archives: Our stories

Guinness Partnership – stop making people homeless! Local, social housing for all residents of the Guinness Trust estate

Protest with us on Friday 4th July, 3.30pm meeting at the front of Guinness Trust estate, Loughborough Park, SW9 8NL.

Residents of the Guinness Trust estate, Loughborough Park, are campaigning against so-called ‘social landlord’, Guinness Partnership, who have been making tenants on Assured Shorthold Tenancies (insecure tenancies) homeless as part of the ‘regeneration’ of the estate. Guiness Partnership will in total have made 150 households homeless by the end of the ‘regeneration’. Those that qualify for ‘help’ from Lambeth council face months of exile as Lambeth house hundreds outside the borough while they process their claim for homelessness.

Together, Guinness Trust estate residents, Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth, and Lambeth Housing Activists are calling on Guinness Partnership to provide local, social housing for all residents faced with eviction and homelessness. We welcome you to get involved too! Why not contact Guinness Partnership expressing your concern at a ‘social landlord’ making people homeless, there contact details are here and you can tweet them here.

Keep your eyes on our blog for more news and updates, and get in contact if you’d like to get involved: haslemail[at]

Guinness Trust estate is one of many estates across London being subjected to ‘regeneration’. Regeneration for who, though? For many residents and communities, this means eviction, homelessness, displacement, and the loss of desperately needed social housing. This quality article on the Brixton Blog includes residents of the Guinness Trust describing the impact of eviction on their lives. One person describes how they were admitted to hospital for four weeks after being evicted by Guinness Partnership. The residents describe how the regeneration is a process of social and ethnic cleansing.

Residents on the estate tried to organise together back in 2010 to have a say in the regeneration, but their attempts were frustrated by the Guinness Partnership who refused to acknowledge their tenants group and allow them use of the community centre. At one of the protests, the residents were threatened by the police and this also contributed to the end of the campaign. ‘9 Stories in Brixton’, a film made by the residents can be seen below. But the residents haven’t given up on their campaign, it’s starting up again.


A Guinness Trust AST resident has written to Lambeth council leader Lib Peck asking for her support for the rehousing of Guinness Trust AST residents by Guinness Parternship. Read her letter below
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Esther and Her Family Rehoused!

We’re really happy to hear that Esther and her family are being rehoused by Metropolitan housing association in their local area. Esther, ourselves, and Lambeth Housing Activists confronted Metropolitan last week about making the family homeless and demanded that they fulfil their duties as a so-called ‘social landlord’ and rehouse the family locally. By their deadline of Friday, Metropolitan had been in contact with Esther to offer her a choice two flats in the local area. Collective action works! A massive thanks to everyone who supported Esther. Let’s keep on organising together for quality, secure, truly affordable homes for everyone!

We met Esther when she was at Lambeth housing office on Brixton hill being told her and her family would have to live in temporary accommodation across London in Hackney away from their school, work, and community. HASL members accompanied Esther in the housing office to challenge them about this completely inappropriate accommodation. There we were told that homeless people and families are being sent to temporary accommodation in Enfield, Dagenham, and Margate. Others on the Clapham Park estate are facing eviction by Metropolitan as part of their regeneration scheme – a similar story is happening on other estates across Southwark and Lambeth.

Join us at our regular meetings to discuss what we can do together about these issues and any other housing or welfare issues you’d like to take action on. Our next meeting is this Thursday 10th at 12pm at Southwyck Community Hall on the Moorlands estate off Moorlands road. We will be leafletting at Olive Morris House just up from Lambeth town hall on Brixton hill beforehand from 10am if you’d like to join us.




Family Evicted by Demolition Sent Miles from School and Work

This afternoon, members of HASL went down to Lambeth Council’s housing office in Brixton to talk to people there about their housing problems and find out what kind of help (if any) they were getting from the council.

One person we met was E, who has a 7 year old daughter and is almost five months pregnant. Ten days ago she, her partner and her daughter were evicted by Metropolitan Housing Association from their home on Lambeth’s Clapham Park estate so that they could demolish it.

The council refused to help the family until they were actually homeless (even though they could have done so four weeks beforehand) and they have already been shunted around temporary accommodation in two different locations in south London. Today E was told that the only accommodation available from tonight is bed and breakfast accommodation miles away in Hackney. The family are being told to stay their indefinitely.

E works night shifts in Camberwell and her daughter goes to school in Clapham. Finishing work at 8am, it will be impossible for E to get to Hackney to pick up her daughter and get her to school anywhere near on time, meaning disruption to her education. Apart from this, the massive stress the whole situation is causing risks damaging the health of E’s unborn child.

We joined E to challenge the staff in the housing office on their decision to send the family to Hackney and ask how E’s daughter was supposed to get to school. The council officers we spoke to had no answers to this, but were adamant that they had nowhere suitable to house the family. They added that if E didn’t take the B&B accommodation on offer, the would provide no further help.

HASL will be supporting E and her family to demand suitable permanent accommodation which is close enough to E’s place of work and her daughter’s school, and will be discussing what further action to take at our meeting on Wednesday if the situation has not been resolved by then.

Our Stories: The flat my daughter lives in is unsafe for her but Lambeth Council have failed to act.

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth believes that everybody should have access to housing that is of good quality, truly affordable, secure, and meets their needs. We’ll be sharing our stories about our housing and welfare issues on our blog in order to document some of the housing problems we face in Lambeth and Southwark and to encourage other people facing similar issues to get involved in our group. We’ll also be blogging on the collective action that we take in order to deal with the problems we face.

When Valerie* first got involved in HASL she told us of the enormous struggle she has been having with Lambeth council to get her daughter re-housed because the flat that she is currently living in is inappropriate for her.

Jessica, Valerie’s daughter, suffers from epilepsy and for the last two years she has been taking medication to deal with seizures which have been brought on by stress. This medication sometimes causes hallucinations or blackouts, and in August 2012 lead to her falling from her fourth floor balcony. Fortunately the fall was not fatal. These unpredictable blackouts mean that living in a fourth floor flat with her three children, as well as having to use the flights of stairs as there is no lift, poses a significant risk to her. A medical assessment taken after her fall confirmed that Jessica should be living in a flat without stairs yet the council have failed to treat this case with the urgency it requires. Over a year later, Jessica is still living in the fourth floor flat where she is at risk of serious injury.

Valerie has sent several letters to the council and has visited her MP, Tessa Jowell, about the case. Lambeth council have failed to act on the case for over a year now whilst Tessa Jowell insultingly suggested that Jessica have her children taken in by social services! An absurd and utterly disrespectful suggestion. Clearly it is the housing that is the problem!

Valerie described the enormous emotional impact the dangerous housing and Lambeth’s inaction has had on her and her family:

“When my daughter fell from her balcony I thought she was dead, but to our relief (father/sisters/family) this was not the outcome, how ever since then I have been fighting with Lambeth Council to move my daughter from the fourth floor flat without any lift. The strain is taking its toll as all my actions have failed and fallen on to deaf ears and the visual impact not only on my daughters health but her three children’s mental state is pushing us all to the edge! My brother and I have been constant carers as my daughter continues to have seizures so we have to do the school and pre-school run even though we also have health issues.

Lambeth Living is one of the most uncaring statutory landlords I have come across.”

Valerie and HASL have written a joint letter to Lambeth council housing office on 10th October demanding that Jessica is urgently re-housed in a council flat that is appropriate for her and her family. We are still awaiting a response and action from the council and will be planning our own action in the meantime.

*The names in this blog have been changed to protect their privacy.

Lambeth Housing Office’s Multiple Failures Leaves HASL Member on the Streets

Housing Action Southwark and Lambeth have been supporting one of our members who is currently homeless to get emergency accommodation from Lambeth Council. His personal situation means that he should have placed into emergency accommodation immediately, and supported in finding longer term accommodation, however staff at the housing office have on numerous occasions failed to ensure that this occurs. He is now sleeping rough on the streets whilst the housing office continue to fob him and HASL off. We are deeply concerned about our friend and also about the conduct of some of the staff in the housing office and their inability to follow basic procedures and fulfil their duty to house people.

Below we outline the multiple occasions on which Lambeth housing office staff have not followed the correct procedure for supporting a vulnerable homeless person.

As a housing action and support group we are learning about our housing rights together as we go along. This has meant that on this occasion, as we are still learning, the housing office has got away with a lot. However, we are learning fast. We have learnt that the housing office will lie to your face, treat you with disrespect, and do everything they can not to house you. This will probably come as no surprise to those who have had to deal with them before. The support HASL has provided for our friend has meant that through these interactions, there has often been another HASL person to watch his back.

Visit to housing office number 1:

Visit to register for priority homelessness. Told that he is not in priority need and therefore is not given emergency accommodation. Told that they will pass on his medical information (which strongly makes the case for priority need) to be reviewed by someone else. Sent away without anything.

What should have happened

He should have been accepted immediately as priority need homeless and provided with emergency accommodation. The Shelter emergency housing rights checker confirms this as did a Shelter case worker.

Not having done this, they should have given him emergency accommodation whilst they are reviewing the case. Civil Law Advice are interested in pursuing a judicial review against Lambeth’s decision not to do this.

They should also have informed him that if they do not deem him in priority need, they will issue him with a section 184 notification which he can give to a housing association he is in contact with to prove that he is homeless.

Visit number 2:

Having learnt from Shelter that he does indeed fulfil the criteria for priority need homelessness, he returned with someone else from HASL to see if they could query this and get the emergency accommodation needed. After waiting for over two hours in the housing office we spoke with someone we were told was a manager. She dismissed Shelter’s assessment – “they’re a lobby group, of course they say you’re priority, they say everyone is…we’re the council, we’re professionals, we act on the facts” – and then said very rudely and bluntly “in my opinion you are not priority need”. She said threatening that we were lucky enough that someone from their office was reviewing the medical evidence. It seemed if we pushed it much more she would just drop it altogether. We asked what he was to do tonight as he had nowhere to go. She told us that if he is on the streets, he can call the Lambeth Safe Street Team and they will come and check on him. He was told to call up to find out about the decision which would be made within the next two days.

What should have happened

Well, of course she should have looked into his case and come to the same conclusion as Shelter and arranged for emergency accommodation. She should have listened to what we were trying to say to her and spoken to us with respect.

Or, she should have acknowledged that whilst the case was being reviewed, he should be in emergency housing.

Failing this, instead of suggesting the streets and the Safe Street Team as appropriate support, she should have suggested some kind accommodation that has a roof.

Visit number 3:

Our friend returned to the housing office in person on the deadline they had given for the decision. He was told that a decision was yet to be finalised and was told to phone the following day. He called up the next day to find out what the decision was only to be told that the decision could take up to six weeks.

What should have happened

He should have received the decision as he was promised and not been given false deadlines which it now seems the manager had made up to get us out of there on our second visit.

Lambeth housing office have knowingly left a vulnerable homeless person to find somewhere on the streets whilst they make a decision on whether he is in priority need (which the manager hinted would be a negative one), denying him emergency accommodation they should provide in the interim and continually misinforming him (not informing him about the section 184 notification, “call in tomorrow and the decision will be made”).

Homeless services in London 

We are also appalled by the homeless services and support that are (un)available to homeless people that we have learnt about from our friend.

There is often strict criteria on accessing homeless shelters and services meaning that our friend has been turned away from a shelter which did not accept those who had access to public funds and denied support from one organisation because he has mental health issues.

He has been encouraged by his social worker to sleep rough in order to access rough sleeper support services such as Lambeth Safe Street Team, Southwark Spot Homeless Team, Streetlink, and No Second Night Out. However, for the last two nights, the people who are supposed to locate and support him have failed to do so. He has been told by No Second Night Out that he can sleep on the streets for a maximum of 10 days but after that if the team turn up and do not recognise him, he will no longer receive help.

We are a housing support and action group. We believe in decent homes for all. This sort of service, where the housing office fails to live up to its name and fails on so many other levels as well (basic respect), is not acceptable. We welcome people to get involved in the group to provide support for each other and take action together.