Residents of a Greater Manchester tower block are joining together to organise against ‘miserable’ conditions
Residents of a tower block in Salford have been campaigning for decent living conditions. After Grenfell, potentially dangerous cladding was removed – but it hasn’t been replaced. Holm Court tenants are calling for their housing association, Pendleton Together, to meet with them.
Pendleton Together has been doing work on Holm Court for months, and is also removing asbestos. Residents say that the constant noise from the building work, and the exposed wiring, is affecting their wellbeing and mental health. Despite all of this, residents also say that they are seeing no progress in the work. They have joined the ACORN tenants union to try to improve their conditions, and took part in a march on the Pendleton Together offices earlier this year.
The residents’ struggle was recently featured on the BBC. ACORN Manchester tweeted:
Residents of Holm Court in Pendleton, Salford, together with ACORN featured on BBC Northwest: pic.twitter.com/0qTqKU6nyZ
— ACORN Manchester 🏘️ (@AcornManchester) May 1, 2023
Taking a toll on residents’ mental health
What the residents told BBC Northwest was shocking. One tenant, Kevin, said that the electric bills have gone “sky high” from £40 to £100 since the old cladding was removed. He added that:
The drafts are coming through, the walls are all damp. I’ve never been so down in my life, living in these flats.
Farah, another resident of the flats, has mould in her flat. She said that her mental health was being affected too. She told the BBC:
It’s noisy, it’s depressing, there’s litter everywhere. We’re not aware of when work’s been completed. I’m quite embarrassed living here.
There’s rats everywhere, there’s dirt everywhere. I’ve got significant mental health problems with the whole thing.
The conditions in Holm Court could be catastrophic for the people living there. However, these tenants are not the only people in the area suffering from dangerous housing conditions.
Last month a Manchester coroner ordered an inquest into the death of Luke Brooks, who died as a result of living in a mouldy rented flat. A coroner also recently ruled that two-year-old Awaab Ishak died after prolonged exposure to black mould in his family’s housing association property in Rochdale. Both Luke’s and Awaab’s families had tried to persuade their landlords to address the unsafe conditions. Meanwhile, UK-wide complaints to the housing ombudsman have increased significantly since 2020, and millions of homes have serious hazards, such as black mould.
Landlords clearly don’t care about the conditions their tenants live in, but communities can take care of each other. Collective action is often an effective solution that can force landlords to change. Collective organising has already helped to shine a spotlight on the dangerous situation in Holm Court.
Joining a tenants union gives people more power to take action against dodgy landlords. According to ACORN Manchester:
Our community union is a source of power for our class: an organisation with the strength to defend our interests and build an alternative power base within our communities. We believe in decent, secure and affordable homes for all. Housing fit for human habitation and respectful of the environment.
If you want to find out more about tenants’ organising, you could check out the ACORN, Living Rent, and London Renters’ Union websites.
Featured image via screenshot/BBC Northwest
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