London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) is a new organisation in London, modeled closely on the work of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. This is a report from our first two actions.
Since Friday, LCAP has taken on two casework actions at Hackney Homeless Persons Unit (or "Housing Needs Office"). The first, on Firday the 3rd of August, was in support of a man who had been sleeping in a park for a week, after being excluded from his house by bail conditions. The office had told him on the previous Monday to come back on Thursday for an appointment - NOT with a homelessness officer, and after sleeping rough all that time he was told verbally that he was intentionally homeless. Three of us came back with him the next day and demanded he be given a homelessness interview, and that he be housed that night, and he was.
On Monday we returned with a young mother, who having fled her temporary accommodation due to violence and harassment had been sofa surfing since November. Hackney council had decided she was not homeless, completely disregarding guidance concerning the safety of victims of violence being paramount. In fact the woman concerned had faced further acts of violence as a result of the HPU forcing her to make a report to the police, and even then refusing to house her. Although we had to return the next day (Tuesday the 7th of August) for an interview, as she was pressured into staying one more night with a friend, she was also housed after her interview.
There are many more cases we can take on in the coming weeks. These two cases are not even unusual practice for Hackney HPU, rather noone seems to be well treated there unless they resort to direct action.
The group aims to take strategic action around issues related to poverty - homelessness, low wages, benefit payments - in London. One of the approaches we intend to use is the "direct action casework model" - which was successful in the instances described above. In the long run, we hope to build into larger campaigns. Our current focus, as suggested above, is "gatekeeping" - preventing homeless people from making applications - at HPUs.
We are still very young, and are open for people to get involved, especially if you can sometimes spare time during "normal" working hours, Monday to Friday. Get in touch.
Our next meeting is Thursday 16th August 7.30pm at the Cock Tavern (err, actually which Cock Tavern it is I don't know - Jason Cortez booked it).
group phone: 07932 241737