Tenants' Win, and Russel Vindicated
My initial feeling was of shock and devastation. I cried - I couldn’t believe this was happening. And then my disbelief turned into anger. For all my life New Era has been my home. I couldn't stop thinking about my daughter's future, and what would happen to my parents, who are both in their late sixties and also live on the estate.
If we were evicted, we would have had no choice but go wherever Hackney Council could rehouse us - places that were being named were Hastings, Clapton, Birmingham - anywhere but London basically.
I cried, and then I thought: fuck this, and called the press. I had read an article about a similar housing problem in The Mirror a few weeks earlier, so I thought they might listen. Suddenly, our story was on the front page, and I realised that people were interested in what we were going through, as we received so much attention.
Everyone felt the same. We were upset, and wanted to fight back. So we organised a Tenants Association. We had a meeting and I got voted in as Chair.We then built a community around our campaign, and started getting out there, trying to get more people to listen. We launched the petition on Change.org, got down to Hoxton Market to hand out leaflets to people with the link to our petition. We contacted local housing groups like Digs, who gave us advice...
I don’t think we’d be here now without Russell Brand's support. We stopped him at the market in the middle of September, and met again a week later. He was really interested and impressed with what we were doing, and told us he was going to help us save our homes.
By getting involved he gave us a bigger voice. And rather than taking over, he gave us a much bigger audience to speak to. The amount of publicity that came with him really helped us.
He's been criticised for joining our campaign, but this has actually made more people interested in us. People who hadn't heard about what we were doing were suddenly asking what this New Era campaign was all about. I think the only people that the media harmed was themselves - it made them look a bit stupid, because everyone could see that what Russell was doing was a good thing.
And while I am at it , without becoming a "Brandite", because I like his style (with words, I could not possibly copy his hairstyle), let me commend the reply he wrote to a bank employee who complained that his lunch break was spoiled by an incident in which Brand was involved: Apology for a Cold Paella: