ACORN members met last night to discuss challenges facing people that we could campaign on as a community union.
People talked about benefits and sanctions and how in the city there are people who have been sanctioned by the Job Centre for 3 years, the maximum amount of time you can be sanctioned for. This means experiencing the pressures of looking for a job whilst having no income. Where does this leave people and who is this helping?
We also heard about the bedroom tax and people on low-incomes being forced to pay out money for having an additional room or downsize even if there is a lack of suitable properties to downsize to and even if you’ve lived in your house for years.
Other people talked about wanting to do a campaign to get our parks improved or to ensure young people aren’t excluded from the community through a lack of safe spaces and things to do.
But the main talking point was housing – we heard about the challenge of finding decent, affordable family-friendly rents, lies told to us by some letting agents before we move in and some letting agents refusing to rent to people on benefits. There are landlords and letting agents out there providing a decent and fair service so why can’t all of them?
We don’t want to just talk but act as well! So we started thinking about what a housing campaign could ask for, to whom and how. If we wait for things to change through government, we could be waiting a long time so let’s do something about it now.
We are looking forward to our big meeting on the 3rd December where we will be inviting people who live in Heaton to have similar discussions and vote on the first issue to campaign on and what we should do.