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Protesters disrupt council meeting over Stratford mother being evicted to Birmingham

PUBLISHED: 19:00 09 March 2018

Campaigners from Focus E15, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, Newham Green Party, The Museum of Homelessness, and Streets Kitchen made up last night’s protest. Picture: Hannah Caller

Campaigners from Focus E15, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, Newham Green Party, The Museum of Homelessness, and Streets Kitchen made up last night's protest. Picture: Hannah Caller

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A mother who lives in Stratford is being offered new council housing - in Birmingham.

Protesters stood up at the end of last night's cabinet meeting to have their case heard. Picture: Hannah CallerProtesters stood up at the end of last night's cabinet meeting to have their case heard. Picture: Hannah Caller

Sara Abdullah has been living in emergency accommodation in Victoria Street for the last six months, after she was forced to move out of her home due to overcrowding.

At a cabinet meeting in Newham’s Town Hall last night, members of campaign group ‘I Stand with Sara’ unfurled banners and pleaded to councillors to hear her case.

Sara said: “The accommodation I was offered didn’t work out – it’s a hostel and it’s cramped, so they offered me housing in Birmingham.

“They said they’ve ‘discharged their duty of care’ to me.

“They’ve made me feel like I don’t deserve accommodation.”

Sara has lived in Newham for 12 years. Parents from her son’s school, friends, Focus E15 campaigners, people from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!, Newham Green Party, The Museum of Homelessness, and Streets Kitchen made up last night’s protest.

Sara said: “Seeing everyone just walking away when I’m talking about my family, it’s such a shame. I feel disappointed.”

“I can’t commute an hour every day to send my children to school. And it’s not just a house, my whole life is being uprooted.”

Hannah Caller, one of the campaigners, said it was disappointing no councillors stopped to hear them.

She said: “Fine don’t approach us, but to not even stop to listen – it’s like she didn’t exist.”

A Newham Council spokeswoman said: “We have been working closely with Sara since May 2017 when she first approached us. Her circumstances meant that due to high rent levels in Newham, many properties would be unaffordable to her. Taking this into account and the pressures on the council she was made a reasonable offer of private sector accommodation in Birmingham which she refused, requesting a review. The review which was completed on 16 February found the offer made by the council was suitable. She had the opportunity to further appeal this decision and she has not done so.

“With a shortage of affordable accommodation, there’s only so much we can do. Local authorities like Newham need the resources and flexibility to invest in housing which is genuinely affordable for those on the lowest incomes. Fairer government funding is needed to ensure outer London boroughs like Newham are not left to deal with this housing pressure.”

Sara is due to be evicted on March 14. The campaign group are holding a meeting on Saturday at Custom House Library from 10am, where they will be presenting a ‘Newham charter’ to potential mayoral candidate councillor Rokhsana Fiaz.

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