Saffi, her sisters, mother, and grandmother are housed by Southwark council in temporary accommodation, but have been evicted by the council and continuously moved about – including being sent out to Plumstead. They are currently living on an estate in Camberwell that the council has earmarked for demolition. On Sunday, 3rd May we received this e-mail from her.
Good afternoon, my name is Safie Emila Sellu. I am 14 years old turning 15 on the 16th June. I live with my younger sisters who are 5 and 7. My ill grandmother and single mother. We are located in Southeast London. Southwark.
Yesterday my family and I joined a peaceful protest in Ealing, with the supportive Working Revolutionary people’s party. After the marching, we attended a meeting, where we we thankfully met one of your staffs who instructed me to write this message to ask for you support on Tuesday 5th May 2015.
Considering the fact that like all our other houses we have lived in, we have been evicted from our ramshackle house at 51 Benhill Road London SE5 7QY and we are expected to leave at 11:00 and become homeless again.
We constantly keep moving from one house to another nonstop for over the past years. This is extremely difficult because I am missing school and I have my GCSE exams and my family have been undergoing this difficult process all our life and I feel we need to put a stop to this.
Thus I am pleading with all my might, that you come down and support us on along with some other generous people coming to peacefully protest and make our voices audible concerning the way the council are treating our community.
Photo: People’s Republic of Southwark
On the morning of Tuesday, 5th May, nearly forty people turned up at Saffi’s home from Housing Action Southwark & Lambeth, Aylesbury and Guiness, squatters, Lambeth Housing Activists, Green & Black Cross, Reclaim Brixton, Revolutionary Workers Party, People’s Republic of Southwark, and others.
The council are trying to evict the family for alleged rent arrears. Contrary to what Southwark Council claim, rent arrears does not automatically make you ‘intentionally homeless’. The family have lawyers who are appealing the decision, but in the meantime collective action kept the family in their home.
After seeing a balcony of people and banners determined to block their way, the bailiffs and builders didn’t approach but hid around the corner talking with the police. Once they had left, Saffi’s mum delivered a powerful victory speech about how many families are facing eviction, and promised to help any others in the same situation fight for their homes. Her speech can be watched here:
She then invited us all in for a victory feast of jollof rice with chicken and plantain.