Hundreds protest plans to move Hackney domestic abuse charity into “unsuitable premises”
PUBLISHED: 14:08 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:15 13 July 2020
Hundreds of people attended a socially-distanced protest outside Hackney Town Hall demanding “a safe space” for London’s only organisation serving African and Caribbean heritage survivors of domestic violence.
This comes after Hackney Council announced that the charity Sistah Space must vacate its current premises in Mare Street and return to a building in Lower Clapton Road.
Morgan Jones from Sisters Uncut, a feminist, anti-racist group which helped organise the protest on July 10, said: “The council evicting Sistah Space highlights its hypocrisy when it comes to anti-racism.
“They say: ‘Black Lives Matter’, but Sistah Space provides life-saving services and the council’s decision to evict them is putting black women’s lives in danger.”
But the council says it has spent £35,000 refurbishing the Lower Clapton at the charity’s request – “providing safer, more secure and modernized facilities for staff and women seeking help”.
A spokesperson for the council told the Gazette: “Although Sistah Space had agreed to move back to their new premises once refurbishment was complete, we understand concerns about moving at this time and have offered to extend their current temporary arrangements until at least the end of July. We’ll continue to monitor this situation.”
The council stated its project team “went to great lengths” to agree the detailed specification of works with Sistah Space.
Still, campaigners are concerned the council are “putting profit before black lives” and have never invested in the charity, which is entirely funded through grants and donations, directly.
Since moving to its current premises Sistah Space states footfall has increased by 300 per cent.
The charity maintains that the “shop front” in Lower Clapton is unsuitable for the work it does as it is too small and in a badly lit, out of sight area which is “dangerous after dark”.
It fears the move will put off people seeking help and limit the number of women it can support.
The council added, it has “never asked Sistah Space to pay any of the costs of its occupation” of its current premises.
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