Last week Take Back The City were welcomed into SRF's quiet office space, tucked just behind Clapham Junction's busy hub. An hour or two of discussion later and we'd discovered the changes they want made to their London and heard an assortment of their stories of the city they've witnessed morph and develop over the last few decades.
SRF is a group comprised predominantly of women who emigrated from the Caribbean during their childhood. In coming together to create the forum they aimed to share their experiences and help each other to reconcile with the emotional trauma of separation from their parents at a young age and childhood relocation. They have been working in communities across south London since 1999 hosting conferences and producing a wealth of literature on the work and issues they promote.
On this Saturday morning, after some tea and biscuits had everyone settled in, we explored with a few SRF members which key issues most preoccupied them and affected their relationship with the city, from homelessness to poor policing.
A thought provoking discussion ensued as we delved into how media representation of immigrants today, reminded them of how many people from the Caribbean were dehumanised in the daily news through racist language during and after the arrival of the Windrush generation of the 1960s. They also pondered how cuts to public services would affect the mental and physical wellbeing of those arriving.
Accessibility to services was also a clear worry as many felt that the demonization of young black men in the media had led to prejudice in public services holding young people back, with particular concern for housing.
Reflecting on what most needed changing, here are the five demands that were voted to represent SRF’s voice following the exploration of an impressive range of social issues and ideas for change:
-More multi use community spaces that are inclusive for all
-Better accountability and transparency in the Metropolitan police and more intelligence-led policing, especially in regards to stop and search
-Approach mental health with the same funding and investment as physical health
-Provide better access to accommodation services for young black men
-Return to anti-racism discourse and put race back on the agenda