Coventry teacher ‘We need to highlight homelessness’

Coventry teacher ‘We need to highlight homelessness’

edgwick

Campaigners outside Edgwick Play Centre – defending play facilities and homes is critical

The following was a speech written by a delegate from Coventry to the NUT conference. Unfortunately due to time constraints the speech wasn’t made, however we are publishing it on our website as it raises some critical issues for our city.


 

This week I sat with one of my students as he described with glee that he had moved into a new home. He showed me photographs of his new home and talked about how he could now fly his remote control helicopter in his living room. A month ago he was a completely different child. He lived in one room with his family in a hostel.

A hostel that provided nothing, not enough beds, no cooking facilities and washing facilities that were shared amongst many families. Every day he arrived late as he had to travel across the city to school.

Despite the conditions he has been living in, he always smiles, but he has found it incredibly hard to cope with school. Learning has not been important as his priorities have been led by basic needs. In the past month, since being rehoused, he has made more progress than he has made in the previous six months. He has started to speak more confidently and read and write.

As teachers, we know that if children are living in poverty and deprivation, it will adversely affect their mental health and in turn their learning. In this data driven education system, this is one thing that can be measured. But we are told that this is irrelevant and all children in Primary should be working at the same level. It’s crazy.

There are an increasing number of children in exactly the same position in my school. In Coventry, in the last year, 290 homes were repossessed. The CAB has recorded a 100% rise in enquiries on homelessness.

Many of these will have been from families with school age children. The main reasons for this, the CAB quotes, is the changes to benefits and benefit sanctions which have led to sanctions that have meant that many cannot pay rent or mortgages and stay in their home.

We need to highlight homelessness in the same way as we have raised the use of food banks in Coventry. The publication of the numbers of our children and families living with constant transience and homelessness should shame this government in exactly the same way. Forcing them to resign and pull back on benefit sanctions.

We need to fight the austerity cuts locally, whoever they are carried out by. Cuts that are removing homelessness support services and money for refuges that are the last line of support for many of these families.

We need to shame the landlords that are profiting from this situation and that are evicting our families. Shame the banks that are repossessing homes. We need to defend those who face eviction. We need to demand that all our children have a right to safety, to a home and to an education that is not fractured because of government policy.

 

 

 

Our 10 most popular posts in 2015

Our 10 most popular posts in 2015

No evictions here!

No evictions here!

As we move in to 2016, we look back at our 10 most popular posts from 2015. Our website received a record number of views in 2015, and we thank all of those who wrote articles, contributed photographs, or who shared our articles on social media. It makes a big difference!

We have published dozens of articles on a wide variety of issues – from important campaigns in the city and surrounding area such as Save Coventry Libraries, from picket lines when strikes have taken place, the anti Bedroom Tax movement and the struggles of youth and students.

In 2016 we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and to take the next step in the fight for Socialism!

Here are the 10 most popular articles from 2015

  1. TUSC wins nearly 400 votes in Kenilworth
  2. Dave Nellist on the Artist Taxi Driver
  3. Museum staff forced to take pay cut
  4. Over 100 people join Coventry protest against austerity
  5. ‘Either we fight or we lay down and die’ – Protest at Coventry City Link
  6. Dave Nellist outlines the Socialist response to the TTIP deal
  7. Another eviction stopped in Coventry
  8. 2015 elections – Vote Socialist on 7th May
  9. Nellist welcomes left wing victory in Greece
  10. Coventry students demand £10 for uni workers

We wish you a Happy New Year, join us in the struggle for socialism in 2016!

 

 

Dave Nellist on the Bedroom Tax and the Labour Council

Dave Nellist on the Bedroom Tax and the Labour Council

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

The following letter from Dave Nellist was printed in the Coventry Telegraph on 11 December.

In recent months I’ve attended meetings across Coventry where the threat of eviction from the ‘bedroom tax’ is worrying families.

I’ve explained that people can apply to the council for help through Discretionary Housing Payments, but in many cases they’ve not succeeded. Why is that?

In March the Council’s Labour Cabinet decided to spend only a third of what would be necessary to protect all the 3,000 families facing bedroom tax cuts of £700 a year or more in their Housing Benefit.

But of that limited money set aside, in the first six months of this financial year barely 20 per cent has actually been awarded. For many of the tenants who were unsuccessful it seems to be harsh decision making. And many of them may now be facing eviction. So, two things should now immediately happen:

Firstly, I think councillors should review all the unsuccessful cases, and revise the criteria to make sure no one – especially as winter develops – is evicted for this harsh Tory Coalition policy.

And secondly, every one of the 3,000 families affected by the bedroom tax – even if unsuccessful in the past – should now apply or apply again. There’s hundreds of thousands of pounds put to one side to cushion this callous cut in benefits which is not being used properly.

We’ve often heard criticisms from Labour leaders about the harshness of government policy. But if their criticism is not just to be synthetic indignation then now is the time for them to do something about it and to stop the evictions this winter.

Dave Nellist