|Members of KUWG get a bit of reverential 'glasstic surgery' for staving off an eviction threat|
Unemployed and tenant activists in Brent, north west London, stopped two evictions of vulnerable people from their homes last week by fighting back. I’m part of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group. One of our members was going to be evicted from his small bedsit.
He suffers from mental health problems and lives on benefits. We helped him challenge the eviction notice in court. They asked for proof of his benefits which we sent to them. But the bailiff went ahead with the eviction anyway.
The injustice of that convinced a group of us go and physically block the eviction—and we stopped it. When they came to change the locks we refused to let them anywhere near the door. The bailiff argued that we could always appeal the decision after they changed the locks—but where was the guy supposed to go in the meantime?
In another case, a woman who is six months pregnant and a foster carer for two children, lives in a shared room in a B&B with bunk-beds. The council threatened her with eviction for refusing offers of accommodation in other London boroughs some distance from ours, or out of London completely.
There seemed to be no thought for the children as they would have been taken out their school and far from their friends. There was also an issue with domestic violence and moving to one particular place just wasn’t suitable at all.
The woman barricaded her family into their room while a group of us were outside in support from various local activist groups like ours. We shamed the council into committing to find her somewhere to live in the borough. It’s important to have networks around us that help us fight back and not feel like we’re isolated.
And it’s important to resist. We might not always win—but we have to fight.
North West London
Swheatie's Post Script to this: What cowardly landlords get up to when the spotlight of comradely intervention is away is another matter. The price of liberty is constant vigilance or, as a Quaker has noted, peace is more a process than an eventual destination