Parents of pupils appalled as Walthamstow school assistant is evicted from home by council

A homeless mother’s treatment by Waltham Forest Council has “appalled” parents of children she looks after.

Nana Yaa, a “devoted” assistant at Stoneydown Park Primary School with an autistic son, had nowhere to go when she was evicted from her Walthamstow home last week.

The mother and son spent a night in a hostel before being given an unfurnished, temporary room in Beckton, more than an hour’s commute from her work, which starts at 6am.

Speaking at Waltham Forest’s Housing Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, Nana said she provided a council housing officer with proof of her eviction in July and November, but they did not offer her a new place to live in the borough.

She added that son asked her if they were “prisoners” in the Beckton room, where they slept on the floor until supporters brought them a bed the next day.

On behalf of parents at Stoneydown Park school, Sonali Bhattacharyya said many parents are “appalled” at the way Nana and her son have been treated and urged the council to relocate them near to the school.

She added: “Nana is an essential part of a staff team of key workers who’ve ensured Stoneydown has remained a safe, welcoming and supportive community for children and their families throughout the pandemic – the most challenging period most of us have ever experienced.

“She has nurtured the children at the school as a friendly, fun and loving midday assistant, helping them at lunchtime with their school dinners, keeping them entertained, and attending to them if they get hurt or are upset.”

Cllr Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for housing, said the “difficult times” faced by residents are the fault of the Conservative Government’s benefit cap and “slashing budgets”.

She added: “I think we need to be clear that the difficulties faced in Waltham Forest are faced in every borough across London and in every authority in the South East. 

“Colleagues may be reassured that currently a total of 1,031 social rent homes are either being built or have planning committee approval in this borough and there are over 650 units of other types of affordable housing – the largest project of affordable housebuilding in a generation.

“[Council-owned developer] Sixty Bricks continues to increase its development pipeline with an ambition to build 4,000 new council homes over the next decade.

“As a council we have invested almost £112million of capital funding into new housing in Waltham Forest over the last five years.”

Speaking in support of Nana, socialist campaigner Nancy Taaffe told the committee: “You are building the wrong type of flats, what you call affordable is not affordable, instead of alleviating homeslessess you are compounding the problem, especially for women with children

“Last month it was Nadia, this month it’s Nana and Izebela.

“There is a growing constituency of people coming to us for help, after knocking on your door… as Nana did as she waited for six hours before we stepped in.”

To loud applause from Conservative member Nick Halebi, Nancy added: “We urge you to fight for rent controls, to fight for council housing and against empty properties, because this constituency of people is getting bigger and they are fighting back.”

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter