The Sweetsway estate was bursting with community spirit last night. Residents of the estate and hundreds of supporters gathered around a bonfire chatting.
Kids were running about playing, music pumped from speakers while free ice-cream was served from an ice-cream van and tasty bites and fruity juice came from a very cool Hare Krishna-mobile.
Unfortuatley, the reason for this gathering was a far cry from a celebration, quite the opposite in fact. The residents of the Sweetsway estate are desperately trying to save their homes from demolition. This is another area in London that has been targeted by developers with Barnet council seemingly turning their back on the community and it's basic need for social housing.
One of their big supporters, Russell Brand, was also there last night. Brand spent his time listening to the residents as they voiced their concerns for the future of the estate. He then joined organisers and campaigners, including Janette Ewan, Barnet Housing Action, Jasmine from Focus E15 mums in speaking to the crowd appealing for their continued support. Brand said: “It is so important that we stop the break up of our communities, we must work together to bring about real change”
Today we caught up with Janette Ewans, a key organiser for The Sweetsway resists campaign, she said: “We are absolutely amazed at the turnout and the level of public support for the residents of the Sweetsway Estate. We are so proud of the residents for fighting back and hopefully Barnet Council are feeling really ashamed this morning. We hope this goes towards changing their minds about bulldozing the estate. Our main aim is returning residents to their homes.
We want to say a big “thank you” to Russell Brand, who has greatly helped to highlight the sleepover protest.
In wider terms we would also like to encourage all social housing campaign groups from all over the city and indeed the country to get together in building a strong movement and to join the End Austerity Now, National Demonstration, Saturday 20th June Together we can win.”
Join Barnet Housing Action for a "Funday" on the 28th of March in West Hendon.
Photography by Alex Rafael Rose and Bartholomew Joyce