Minutes of the Housing Group Meetings with related papers

Scope and Content

Minutes of the Essex Road Women's Centre Housing Group Meetings, 1973-1974 (with one case study document) held within a spiral-bound notebook.

Minutes dated 19 Oct 1973; 27 Oct 1973; 2 Nov 1973; 9 Nov 1973; 16 Nov 1973; 23 Nov 1973; 30 Nov 1973; 8 Dec 1973; 23 Feb 1974; 2 Mar 1974; 16 Mar 1974; 23 Mar 1974.

Recurring topics across the meetings include: women's difficulty in being housed, their forced economic dependence or insufficiency, quantative and qualitative aspects of housing provisions, collective facilities, local action, isolation in the home, housing and childcare, production and distribution of posters and leaflets.

Meetings:

* 19 0ct 1973:

Attendees: Carol Riddell, Lisa, Sarah, Monica, Lynn Segal, Sue Eggert.

Key items: Initial group meeting to discuss the aims and objectives of the group. Discussion of a legal case involving a women's squat in Stoke Newington. Ideas surrounding the initial gathering of information on the housing situation in the borough. Decision made to concentrate on the quality of housing rather than the quantity as this was felt to be more pertinent to women. Monica to meet with councillor Phyllis Kershaw to ascertain the role of the council in providing support. Meeting ends with an agreement to each write a statement on their own political agendas as both a getting to know exercise and the basis for future group action. The material will then be used for preparing a leaflet to disseminate information to people.

* 26 Oct 1973

Attendees: Lynn Segal, Ali, Sue Vickery, Miriam, Lisa, Joan, Sarah.

Key items: Different focuses and approaches discussed. Homeless family hostels discussed. Intention to visit a local activist called Lynn, from the Packington Estate.

* 2 Nov 1973

Attendees: Ali, Tammy, Lynn Segal, Sarah, Lisa, Joan.

Key items: Lisa and Joan visited Lynn at the Packington Estate. Lynn voiced her support for the Essex Road Women's Centre but the activity on the Packington Estate is described as 'bleak'. Lynn describes the lack of enthusiasm and commitment from the community, with most women preferring to remain in the home. Discussion on what the Centre could do to actively help. The idea of a crèche is considered and then rejected. The focus changed to the idea of a social event. Talk on the purpose of a leaflet. Lynn Segal to get a copy of Helen Ward's study of council estates in Islington.

* 9 Nov 1973

Attendees:Lynn, Monica, Lisa, Ali, Joan.

Key items: Leaflet and poster discussed.

* 16 Nov 1973

Attendees: Joan, Lynn Segal, Ali, Monica, Sarah.

Key items: Poster discussion continued. Joan drafted a leaflet which formed the basis of the discussion. Some of the issues raised included the difficulty in getting housing, the emotions involved when housing is allocated, how this conditions a woman's personal life. Ali suggested a greater emphasis on analysing the economic basis for housing. The growing difficulties of the owner-occupiers were also considered. Sarah details the conditions of some homeless family hostels in Camden, including one which suffered an outbreak of dysentery which the council then concealed.

* 23 Nov 1973

Attendees: Joan, Ali, Lynn Segal, Monica, Sarah.

Key items: Leaflet and poster revised further. Lynn Segal acquired copies of Helen Ward's study of Islington Council Estates entitled 'Rent Event'.

* 8 Dec 1973

Attendees: Ali Joan, Lisa.

Key items: Discussion of the effects of housing on childcare. Additional work on the leaflet.

* 23 Feb 1974

Key items: Went back to visit the Packington Estate with leaflets and posters to inform the community about the new centre for children. Also visited the Mandeville, Pembroke Castle and Benneton Estates. Impression from local women was that they wanted something of their own. Visit by Mrs Gabriel from Redmond House on the Barnsbury Estate. Proposal to counter leaflet the recent council moves to set up a tenant association. The need to gather more information on Compulsory Purchase Orders is highlighted.

* 2 Mar 1974

Key items: Mrs Pam Awalade visited with her 4 children to talk about her experiences of homelessness and hostels. Proposal to put together information charts. Suggestion that the crèche could be held at homes where people had children.

* 16 Mar 1974

Key items: Two mistakes registered:

* Mrs Duffy returned to discuss her housing problems - keys were unavailable and so there was no one at the Centre.

* Anti-Prebbles demonstration took place without an Essex Road Women's Centre banner, or leaflets for the Centre. Criticism of the lack of involvement in the campaign.

* Discussion of the lack of success of the meeting group. The issue of attendance raised - decision to have a large group meeting to talk about future possibilities for the group.

* 23 Mar 1974

Attendees: Lynn Segal, Joan, Sarah G, Monica and Sarah Limes

Key items: Visiting the Packington Estate as the Group had been invited to go and talk in the community hall. Discussion of the difficulty of getting to know the communities on estates, the lack of mass participation in the Tenant's Associations. Report back from the Hornsey Lane Estate, details their plan to sue the council for mishandling water supplies - some residents were without water for 2 months or more. Suggestion of writing something which would outline the different prejudices that keep communities apart. Particularly interested in people's attitude towards children. Details of preliminary research on the Pembroke Estate reveal that children over the age of fifteen are perceived by women as vandals and delinquents. This prejudice leads to women misdirecting their anger and frustration at the older children. Talk given on Camden Case Cons campaign on homelessness.Suggestion of writing something on the gentrification of the local area - rise in house prices, middle class moving in and working class moving out. Details the spread of middle class values; the tendency to become involved in groups which are financed by the council and are designed to contain and divert anger; the example is given of Centrepiece.. Centrepiece closed down the community café during the day as there were reports of truanting children frequenting the facility.Discussion on social workers as 'soft cops'. Contact made with a woman on the Paddington Estate who is interested in the Group.

* 6 Apr 1974

Key items: National Women's Aid Conference is noted, the theme will be battered wives refuges. Short note on one page detailing information on periods.

* Case study of the Hornsey Lane Estate, c.1972. The document charts the problems faced by women living in inner city estates. The main areas of concern are rent, deterioration of conditions inside the home, overcrowding, damp, lack of facilities and poor educational institutions in the surrounding areas. The document then goes on to detail the outside agencies that are assigned to the Hornsey Lane Estate and the problematic relationship between the welfare state and the women of the Hornsey Lane Estate. The document concludes that self-help is vital if women are to be successful in organising collective action around the estate.