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Thesis title: How do Social Movements emerge and bring about social change? A case study of Focus E15
Start year: 2019
Having worked in housing for around 20 years when considering academia, I was introduced through a lecture at Ruskin College in 2015 to Focus E15. This is a group of young mothers who due to the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and the policy of Newham Council were told if they wanted to be housed, they would have to leave the area and their support networks and move to areas such as Birmingham over 100 miles way. Through occupations, publicity and campaigning they were all rehoused in the Newham area. They also established a street stall on Stratford Broadway that has given them a weekly presence to campaign from. This been in place for 5 years this year and from this they arrange various events as they have directed their actions further than just housing to campaigning for social justice. The group is approached by many people in housing difficulty on the weekly stall and have developed many networks. This has resulted in supporting people to successfully challenge policies of Newham Council and supporting other housing campaigners such as visiting Ireland to show solidarity. The photograph shows me at The Build Up, Welcome Collection, Euston, London on 23 February 2019. This was a day of conversations, performances and workshops exploring the injustices and inequalities created by our relationships with buildings which Focus E15 were part of. One of the early occupations was in a house on The Carpenters Estate where there are 400 empty homes that have been empty for 15 years. This is five minutes’ walk from Stratford Station and the London Olympic stadium. Part of the campaign involves repopulating The Carpenters Estate that is within 5 minutes walk of Stratford Station and Westfield Shopping Centre where there are around 400 empty homes which have been empty for 15 years and where one of the occupations took place. While in Stratford Centre many homeless people sleep at night. When I first visited the area the luxury flats and shopping in Westfield compared to the shopping mall and the people, I met on the street stall told me something was greatly wrong in society. At a previous campaign meeting in February attended by local people, activists and academics somebody speaking from the floor commented ‘this is probably the most important protest in London’. It is my aim to research social movements, consider London and why Focus E15 are unique and have success.
Having had my first independent academic work passed to Professor Danny Dorling and through him speaking to Ali Shaw at Policy Press I hope to publish my work in Policy Press, Bytes series.
Social Movements, Activism, Solidarity, London, Housing, Challenges to Neoliberal Policy
Social Justice, challenging established policies, new ideas.