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Focus E15 tea party occupies an East Thames show flat

Protesters in the East Thames building where they held a Protesters in the East Thames building where they held a "party" in protest about the eviction of mums from a hostel..

Tuesday, January 21, 2014
12:08 PM

Women and children occupied a housing association show flat on Friday by holding a tea party to object to the rehousing of young single mothers to as far away as Birmingham.

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A campaigner with a poster of Newham Mayor Robin WalesA campaigner with a poster of Newham Mayor Robin Wales

Women and children occupied a housing association show flat on Friday to object to the rehousing of young single mothers as far away as Birmingham.

The campaigners and their children set up camp in the flat at the East Thames housing association’s offices in West Ham Lane, Stratford, where they enjoyed tea, cake, balloons and wore party hats.

The young women are all living at Focus E15 Foyer, run by East Thames, a registered housing provider and social regeneration charity.

They face being moved out of the borough following the removal of funding from Newham Council.

All aged under 25 and many with young children, the women are reluctant to leave their friends and family in Newham but worry that they will make themselves homeless if they refuse the council’s offer of homes outside the capital.

Jasmin Stone said: “Friday went really well and we managed to get ourselves heard. After visiting East Thames, we walked down to Newham Council housing offices where we met a lady who had just been told she had to move to Birmingham with her eight-month-old baby, or risk being made homeless. Security tried to kick us out but we explained that we were there to help women like her.”

A supporter of the campaign, Hannah Caller, called the council’s rehousing a form of “social cleansing” and said that the peaceful party was an attempt to raise awareness about the plans. Sir Robin Wales bore the brunt of the protest as the women accused the Newham Mayor of “robbing the poor”.

A Newham council spokesman said that they do not object to the campaign but it had been disruptive. They explained that their priority is to provide the women with accommodation within Newham or in the neighbouring boroughs but the Government’s benefit cap has made London unaffordable for some, which has led to offers of accommodation being made outside the borough.

East Thames added that local homes have been identified for a number of the young mums and have confirmed that the mums face no immediate threat of eviction from the foyer.

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