I recently met with a local activist to visit Gilroy Court, which is a number of temporary accommodation buildings, owned by London Hotels Group in Croydon.
The conditions I saw were appalling.
There were hundreds of rooms, each room housing a family they have an electric hob right on top of the sink.The windows barely open. If there is a fire they can’t get out
In one of the pictures I took today, there was a padlock bolt on the fire door.
The place is infested with rats and mice. On the day I visited a resident was bitten by a rat and ended up in May Day Hospital, activist Ron has a lawyer Working on his case to get him rehoused.
Many residents in these rooms are people suffering with mental distress, disabled people, homeless people from other boroughs of Kingston, Lambeth, Wandsworth Sutton. They end up in Gilroy Court. Single parent families, families with nowhere else to go. The rent is £900 a month.
Housing benefit component of Universal Credit doesn’t cover the full rental cost so families have to pay the shortfall.
There is one washing machine being shared by 200 families! It’s often not working properly…
The families have to pay £27 per month to use it.
Everyone is on Universal Credit. Many getting what hours they can to eat but the more they earn the more DWP take the support away.
This is Ryan in this picture, he’s 40, just come out of hospital he was there six months from a stroke. He sits in a broken wheelchair. He was sofa surfing in Sutton on friends sofas. He’s got no use of one arm and very little use of his other arm. He has carers come in 4 times a day. He gets Universal Credit, but has to find £200 for his rent.
He’s waiting for PIP (Personal Independence Payment). He’s not heard yet.
The front door isn’t accessible. If there was a fire he couldn’t get out.
He was happy to talk to me. He has a social worker, he has seen once in 4 months. He didn’t have a lot to eat.
He burst into tears when we gave him some food and £20 to help with living costs. He was so grateful for the visit and happy to speak to us. We got his permission to speak to Sutton Council and write letters for him.
His last words as we left were, “Get me out of here. I don’t want to be in here.”
They are building more rooms at Gilroy Court
More money to be had at Croydon Council.
They have just recruited a £100K a year housing troubleshooter.
Croydon has many empty homes where people who need a home could be rehoused but these rooms are not fit for human habitation and action is urgently required.
A message to Croydon. Sort the residents out with a decent place to live. This place needs closing down.
I can’t stop thinking of what I saw the smell of the damp, the mice eating resident’s food and the padlock on a fire door
This is the reality of temporary accommodation in the UK. The housing crisis affecting this country is brutal and needs our urgent attention.
Paula Peters 2021