‘This is why there are so many broken homes in Lewisham’: Londoners block bailiffs from home as council tries to evict bus driver and two kids
Around 20 protesters stood outside a Lewisham home today with banners, whistles and saucepans in an attempt to stop a single dad and his two children from being evicted by the council .
Anthony Brathwaite, 39, was told by Lewisham Council he had made himself “intentionally homeless” and would face eviction on September 7.
An initial protest was held outside Anthony’s home on September 7, but he was told the council would return with bailiffs on Tuesday, 28 September.
READ MORE: London bus driver, 39, and 2 kids facing eviction as he accuses Lewisham Council of ‘treating them like animals’
Anthony told MyLondon: “It’s a conveyor belt of destruction – this is why there are so many broken homes and so many broken families in and around Lewisham, because people have had to move out.
“We are people, we’re not sheep or animals living in a pen. We’re not horses you give hay to or a bit of water to – but they’ll say ‘oh we help the unfortunate’, like who?”
Members from housing equality groups such as Campaign for Truth & Justice, Catford Against Social Cleansing, London Renters Union and Yes To Fair Redevelopment were among those who turned up to support Anthony today.
Children as young as seven also showed their support for Anthony with handmade signs and slogans.
The group met at 10am this morning, an hour before Lewisham Homes staff members, a social housing provider of Lewisham Council and bailiffs were supposed to turn up.
Various white vans and blacked out cars had parked up on the side of the road for some time before they eventually stepped outside of their vehicles at around 12.30pm.
They were met with an angry crowd of protesters as they tried to force their way into the property.
An immediate scuffle took place. The bailiffs then tried to access the property through the back door but failed to do so as protesters had barricaded it.
By this time, the crowd had attracted neighbours who were in shock over the eviction of Anthony and his two children.
Anthony fears an eviction will severely upset his disabled son, who likes organisation and routine, as well as his daughter, 10, who has separation anxiety from her dad.
Because Anthony’s 10-year-old son is awaiting further assessment for autism and ADHD, Anthony isn’t legible for disability living allowance or carer’s allowance for his son – the council recognise that Anthony’s son is disabled under the Equality Act 2010, but say a lack of disability benefits for his son means they cannot stay in the property.
Anthony has had a bidding ticket for the last three years so he could show interest in more suitable properties for him and his kids. However, this was recently taken off of him due to his changing circumstances.
He’s been fighting a four-year long battle with the council for a “stable and permanent home” ever since he left the family home in 2017 due to a marriage breakdown.
Since our last report, the council have offered Anthony two private rented accommodations, however they were unsuitable as one was in Greenwich and the other was £1,300 without bills – which exceeds Anthony’s budget.
He feels he is being forced to go down the private renting path and says he cannot afford it on his salary as a single parent.
He previously told MyLondon: “I don’t earn huge amounts of money to suddenly afford a three-bedroom flat. Lewisham Council slap a label on it and keep it moving on the conveyor belt of screwing people over.
“It’s one case less on their books they have to worry about. They treat people like animals.”
As MyLondon left the scene, bailiffs were still attempting to evict Anthony and his children from the property, and there were talks of them calling police for backup, though campaigners stressed this was a civil matter.
MyLondon awaits an update from Anthony over the outcome of today’s eviction.
A Lewisham Council spokesperson said: “Like all of London, Lewisham is facing a housing crisis, with over 10,000 households on our housing waiting list and around 2,500 people in temporary accommodation.
“As much as we’d like to offer everyone on that list a council home, unfortunately it just isn’t possible, so we work with residents to explore practical and affordable options.
“In circumstances like this where the Council has no statutory housing duty, our staff work hard to offer advice and assistance. In this case we found private rented accommodation close to the borough that is affordable and meets the needs of the family.
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“Unfortunately, despite repeated attempts to work with him to find a long term home, the resident has not engaged in this process. We’ve been left with no choice but to continue with the eviction.
“In any cases where children are involved, the housing department liaises closely with children’s services on any relevant issues. We urge the resident to take up our offer of support to move into this long term, private rented accommodation.”
Are you a Londoner who has been impacted by housing in your borough? Contact Ruby with your stories at [email protected]
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