This morning, around 40 people (including residents from the nearby Aylesbury estate campaign, Eviction Resistance, Revolutionary Workers Party, neighbours, and us!) squeezed onto a narrow balcony in Camberwell responding to a call out from 14 year old Saffi to help stop the eviction of her family by Southwark council.
“We constantly keep moving from one house to another nonstop for over the past years. This is extremely difficult because I am missing school and I have my GCSE exams and my family have been undergoing this difficult process all our life and I feel we need to put a stop to this. Thus I am pleading with all my might, that you come down and support us on along with some other generous people coming to peacefully protest and make our voices audible concerning the way the council are treating our community.”
Saffi, her sisters, mother, and grandmother are being housed by Southwark council in temporary accommodation, but as Saffi says, they have been continually evicted by the council and moved about – including being sent out to Plumstead. They are currently living on an estate that the council has marked for demolition.
The council were trying to evict the family for alleged rent arrears. They have lawyers who are appealing but in the mean time, collective action kept the family in their home. HASL have come across a similar situation which we wrote about here, where they evicted a family in temporary accommodation over alleged rent arrears and declared them ‘intentionally homeless’. But having rent arrears does not automatically make you ‘intentionally homeless’ as Southwark council seem to believe. We’ll be keeping an eye on Southwark over this.
Bailiffs and builders hid round the corner talking with a couple of police after witnessing the balcony full of people and banners determined to block their way.
Once we were sure the bailiffs had gone, Saffi’s mum delivered a powerful victory speech and invited us all in for a victory feast of jollof rice, chicken, and plantain.
A moving and inspiring morning! Thanks to everyone who came down!
If you’re facing eviction or worried about any other housing or benefit problems, you’re not alone, get in touch with your local group so that we can support each other and win! If you live in Lambeth or Southwark join HASL’s eviction phone network here and follow Eviction Resistance, London Coalition Against Poverty, and Radical Housing Network for housing action beyond Southwark and Lambeth.