Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon has written to the Mayor of London asking him to intervene to ensure Sistah Space, a charity who provide specialist support for African & Caribbean heritage women and girls affected by domestic violence, have a suitable premises in which they can continue their vital work.
Sistah Space has spent the best part of five years in a small shop front location found for them by Hackney Council. The space has been completely inadequate, described as semi-derelict and not safe for the staff and volunteers or the service users.
After many years of raising concerns about the premises and asking for an alternative location to be found, Hackney Council finally agreed to temporarily relocate the charity while they upgraded and undertook significant repair works on the original premises. Sistah Space moved, after several unsuitable premises were suggested, to a good location which suited their needs well.
However, now that the original premises have been refurbished, Hackney Council are demanding that the charity moves back.
Sistah Space has made it clear that even with the refurbishments the building remains unsuitable for their needs and will negatively impact the important work they do.
There has been a significant growth in demand for the charity's services since the start of the Covid-19 crisis, with a 100% increase in caseload since lockdown began and a 500% increase in footfall since they have been operating in their new location. The charity therefore feels that the current premises would be ideal to cater for this increased demand and would very much like to stay in their current location.
With the prevalence and focus on the hugely important Black Lives Matter movement at present, this would be an opportunity for Hackney Council and both the Mayor of Hackney and London to demonstrate that black lives really do matter. They must ensure this charity can operate effectively in suitable premises without the threat of returning to a completely unsuitable space which will ultimately impact most significantly on those vulnerable women and girls who receive support from this fantastic charity.
Sign the petition demanding Sistah Space are allowed to stay in their current location here
Read Caroline Pidgeon's letter to the Mayor of London below: