The hostel rooms only have flimsy locks, easily forced, and there is no lock at all on the outside gate to keep out intruders. Heating and hot water seldom work and residents are often kept awake for hours by fire alarms ringing through the middle of the night.
Many of those placed in the hostel are mothers with children, whose health and education is suffering from of the lousy conditions. Despite high payments for rooms - up to £350 a week, the management has failed to meet its promises to make improvements, and the council has also failed to take action.
The residents asked for support and the LCAP assisted them in organising Saturday's demonstration, with around 50 people marching from the hostel to Hackney Town Hall where they hoped to meet council representatives.
The march started late, and after a few yards police insisted it go down the pavement as it went down the busy Stoke Newington Road. I had to leave shortly after the start and was unable to go with them to the council offices in Mare St.
London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) http://www.lcap.org.uk/, was started last year and aims to take strategic action around issues related to poverty - such as homelessness, low wages and benefit payments - in London. Inspired by the Toronto based militant anti-poverty Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, it includes members of local activist groups and trade unionists as well as advice workers who work in various organisations including the CAB and law centres.
One of their first direct actions last August, reported in the Hackney Gazette, forced Hackney Council's Homeless Persons Unit to fulfill its statutory duty and find a place to stay for a homeless man who had been sleeping under bushes in Stoke Newington. In another case, a young mother who had left temporary accomodation after violence and harrassment was also housed following their intervention.
As well taking part in direct action, thr group aims to advise and help those directly effected to organise themselves.
More pictures on My London Diary shortly http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2008/04/apr.htm#alexandra