Skip to main content

December 13, 2022

Lewisham residents demand urgent action on poor housing conditions

Over 25 people gathered outside the Town Hall yesterday to call for an urgent change in housing conditions in Lewisham. 

Members of Lewisham Citizens, a civil society alliance of 18 local institutions, met at Laurence House on Thursday afternoon to deliver Christmas cards to the Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Sophie Davis. Each Christmas card contained images of poor housing conditions in the Borough and a message demanding reform. 

In the wake of  the shocking death of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale, Lewisham Citizens are determined to work with the Council to make sure such a tragedy does not occur in Lewisham. 

“No one should have to endure freezing temperatures because their window has fallen out and no one has bothered to replace it, no one should escape a war only to find themselves battling for a safe home. And yet, we know dozens of people facing exactly these issues.” Said a speaker from Lewisham Refugee and Migrant Network. 

They continued: “Lewisham is a Borough of Sanctuary, and we are proud that the Council has taken steps to build a place of safety and welcome, but too many people do not get a chance to experience what a true sanctuary is.”

Messages on the cards read “For Christmas, We’d love a safe place to live!” and “All I want for Christmas is for my walls to not be crumbling.” Children from St Mary’s School also hand wrote cards delivered to Councillor Sophie Davis. 

A mother from a local school shared her story, highlighting how her child must now use an asthma inhaler due to the mould in her home. 

Responding to the cards, the Councillor emphasised these conditions were not acceptable and that the Council were working on solutions. She also expressed that she would keep working alongside the Lewisham Citizens team.

This campaign is the result of a listening exercise, in which hundreds of people spoke of persistent issues with damp and mould. Many highlighted Lewisham Homes’ unanswered maintenance requests and overcrowding, and inadequate responses from the provider. 

“All I want for Christmas is for my walls to not be crumbling.”

In April 2022, ahead of his re-election, Mayor Damien Egan made public commitments to Lewisham Citizens to implement a number of policy solutions designed by local people. The changes include a new approach to auditing housing conditions, clarifying escalation processes, and cultural competence training for council staff. This action asked for urgent movement on these commitments. 

Seeking similar changes, last week, Labour MP for Lewisham East, Janet Daby, wrote a letter to all social housing providers in Lewisham calling for them to combat damp and mould in the housing they provide.

As a recognised Council of Sanctuary, Lewisham has publicly committed to creating a safe and welcoming environment for all sanctuary seekers within the borough.