Waltham Forest: ‘Escape persecution, only to be evicted’

Friday 26 January was the deadline for 400 asylum seekers to “exit” hotels in Waltham Forest, east London. They were given just eight days’ notice. Local residents and campaigners gave support, including vigils outside the hotels.

One asylum seeker told Socialist Party members: “I came here from Iran, because of political persecution. I have been here 18 months, sharing a room with another single person – so small there is no floor space. I have enrolled at the college and I want to work, pay taxes, contribute. But we are not allowed to. We get just £8 a week to live on, because the accommodation has provided food. I was moved out a few days ago and given temporary accommodation by the council, but I’ve been told I have to leave that by 21 February!”

Another showed us photos of his wife and newborn baby, born at the local hospital just the day before they had to leave the hotel.

Waltham Forest protest against refugee evictions
Waltham Forest protest against refugee evictions.
Photo: Paula Mitchell

Neighbours spoke at a vigil, saying: “Our children have played with the children from the hotel for the last year. They have gone to school together. We are heartbroken that now they have to leave without even knowing where they are going.”

The local community has been standing outside all week. Neighbours cried and waved goodbye as their kids’ friends were driven off to who-knows-where.

A council volunteer told us he has been working with asylum seekers here for two years and knows them all by name. Waltham Forest is a ‘Borough of Sanctuary’. When asked what help councillors had given, he told us their response was “we can’t offer more than our presence.” Not even that was on show, let alone any attempt to fight the government.

Socialist Party member and recent election candidate Nancy Taaffe sent this statement to the local press:

Defend asylum seekers and campaign against war

We stand in solidarity with vulnerable asylum seekers given just eight days’ notice of eviction from a Walthamstow hotel. This includes parents and children.

It is disgusting that the Tory government uses vulnerable people as a political football.

The Tories are completely divided and face losing the upcoming general election, and play with the lives of traumatised and desperate people in the hopes of a boost in the polls.

We welcome that the leader of Waltham Forest Labour council says they will give support to asylum seekers.

But we ask them to come out clearly against the policies of their leader Keir Starmer, who is so determined to prove to the bosses that he is on their side, that a Labour-led government would carry out virtually the same policies as the Tories on refugees.

And we ask them – where do they stand on the onslaught on Gaza and the bombing of Houthis in Yemen? Do they back these actions, like the leader of the Labour Party does – actions which not only slaughter thousands of people but also create yet more refugees?

There are 9,000 families in housing need in Waltham Forest, while private renters get evicted due to poverty and the council sends them off to places like Stoke-on-Trent rather than provide them with homes in our borough.

Socialist Party members have stood with others outside working-class people’s houses to prevent evictions and have helped families stay in the borough; we have campaigned for eight years against monster blocks of expensive flats; and instead call for council homes on secure tenancies and genuinely affordable rents.

Socialist Party members have stood in council and London elections to fight for these demands, as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), and will stand in the general election too. We want the Tories out, but we need MPs and councillors who will fight for us, not for the rich! Join with us!

  • Defend asylum seekers
  • Stop the onslaught on Gaza and bombing of Houthis in Yemen
  • No evictions due to poverty – and stop sending people hundreds of miles away
  • Fight for homes for all – build council homes on secure tenancies and low rents
  • Stop and reverse austerity – fight for the resources to meet all our needs