Joana Ramiro reports in the Morning Star today
A mother and her three young children were left sleeping on a police station floor after her employer Newham Council failed to find her emergency shelter when the family was made homeless.
Newham only provided temporary accommodation for Zineb Saafan and her three under-sixes after Focus E15 campaigners descended on the council’s housing offices yesterday.
Ms Saafan — who works as a cleaner on minimum wage at the council’s Stratford High Street offices — had to spend the night in Forest Gate police station after her private landlord’s two-week eviction notice ended.
The council would only offer her hotel accommodation two hours away in north London — ignoring her need to be near her job and her children’s school, she told the Star.
When Ms Saafan refused to leave the housing offices, the council called the police.
“They said you must find somewhere else to go or go to the police station,” she explained.
Together with her children aged six, three and one, Ms Saafan ended up on the floor of the police station, her luggage doubling as pillows and with coats for blankets.
Ms Saafan said station staff refused her daughter access to the toilet and when she asked for water police told her she was “not in a hotel.”
The next morning she turned to the Focus E15 Mums for help.
Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Kwei said it was “astonishing” that the council could not house one of its own employees.
She said the housing situation in the borough was quickly deteriorating.
“The same situation happened to me, my mum and my little brother when I was a teenager — sleeping in a police station because they wanted to find us a place out of London.
“That was years ago and it’s only got worse.”
Another woman with a young son was reportedly also sleeping on the Forest Gate police station’s floor the night Ms Saafan stayed there.
Ms Kwei said: “She wasn’t even the only one, it’s really disgusting.”
“We have the Carpenter’s Estate just outside (Newham housing offices) Bridge House, which has hundreds of perfectly good council homes available.”
The Focus E15 campaign occupied one of the estate’s empty buildings to highlight the mismanagement of social housing in Newham.
Yesterday, campaigners met one of the first new residents on the estate, which Ms Kwei labelled a “massive victory” for the group.
But Ms Kwei warned: “There’s still hundreds of homes left empty there.
“We need to get the rest of Carpenters Estate back into public use.”
A Newham council spokeswoman said: “This family is not the only one in need of our assistance.
“We have a very limited supply of accommodation we can offer to those who need help.”