So what a week it has been.
On Monday we took three of our mums to Community Links historic and inspiring building on the Barking Road – a building in which the suffragette movement was hothoused.
We were there to give evidence to Philip Alston the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. It was not lost on those in the room that – all this time after Sylvia Pankhurst’s brave stand – we are still having to talk about how women are suffering disproportionately from public policy decisions in general and austerity in particular.
Phillip Alston listened quietly to eight local organisation including London Renters Union, LAWRS, and us (see picture above) about how public services are letting down those who go to them for help.
What our mums said…
We told Alston how our mums are denied housing, support, social networks, and the basics needed to survive such as good, hygiene and nappies.
We let him know that women are not helpless, or feckless – they know how to be brilliant mothers and spend all their time and energy doing their best – but a lack of the support to which they are entitled is stopping them doing so. This is keeping them destitute and in despair.
Our incredible mums stood up strong and told their truth to those in the room.
How they felt they had not choice but to stay with an abusive partner – being raped regularly – as they would be homeless and destitute otherwise.
How they had been denied the support to which they were entitled for eight months leaving them literally penniless in an uninhabitable house and unable to keep the heat or the lights on.
How when they had finally plucked up courage to seek help they were left to wait 20 hours in the council office with no food or drink – until they were so weak and dizzy they had to drink their child’s milk.
What happened then….
As you can see from the reporting in the Guardian and Independent their stories made an enormous impact.
On Friday, Alston released his preliminary findings. Here are his damning conclusions on what he found, not in only in East London, but around the country.
They makes sobering reading, but – despite what else is going on politically this week – we think it should be front page news.
We are proud of our mums for their brave and heart-wrenching testimonies – and we are pleased that someone – for once – listened.
How can you help?
If you would like to do something to help why one take one of these steps:
- Talk to you councillor or MP about housing provisions, No recourse to public funds, and how they are tackling poverty.
- Donate to a local food bank, or
- See how you can help our project walk with those who fall through the broken state safety net.