December 10 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Twenty-nine single mums - all aged under 25 - are being evicted from a hostel and could be relocated hundreds of miles away after the mother and baby unit was closed following funding cuts.
Since the women received a letter last month stating they had to leave by October 20, housing organisation East Thames has offered them new accommodation as far away as Manchester, Birmingham and Hastings.
The young parents have been living in Focus E15 Foyer with their babies for anything from a few months up to three years, paying rent or receiving housing benefit.
Many were homeless before being given accommodation at the hostel in Victoria Street, Stratford.
Newham Council funded a range of support services for the young mothers but in August reduced this by £41,000.
In response East Thames decided to close the mother and baby unit, saying the the foyer would not be the right place for children without appropriate support on hand.
The majority of the young mothers grew up in Newham and are reluctant to leave their friends and family.
Jasmine Stone, 19, was staying on friends’ couches until she moved in 15 months ago when her daughter Safia was born.
She said: “We want our children to grow up around our families. I’m 19 and I have a baby and we both need support.”
Another, Javea Samuel, 22, mum to three-year-son Jofiah, fears she will have to drop out of college if she is forced to move away.
“I can’t move outside of London. I’m trying to make a life for my son and get myself off benefits,” she said.
An East Thames spokeswoman said staff were working to help the mothers stay in Newham.
She added: “We are aware that some young residents have been offered a home outside of the borough and understand the particular difficulties this presents when they have built up local support networks.”
A Newham Council spokesperson said that as the landlord it was East Thames’ decision to stop providing accommodation to the women.
She said: “A decision was made in May to reduce the funding for support services for young mothers at Focus E15 by £41,000 as these requirements could be met elsewhere, either within the council or via other agencies. The council will still provide funding for support services for 90 young people at Focus E15 at a cost of £250,000 a year. It is up to East Thames to decide how this funding is allocated between its 210 units.”
The women are holding a public meeting this Saturday (12) at Ithaca House, 27 Romford Road, Stratford, starting at 2pm to campaign against their eviction.