Changes In My Area Feel Like Social Cleansing
- Megan Taylor
What do you do when everything in the ends starts changing?
I live in an ‘up and coming area’ Vauxhall/Wandsworth Road) so over my 15 years of life I have certainly seen a lot of change.
When I was young I could look out of my window and see a nice view of parks and if I looked hard enough the MI5 building and the London eye. Now, I look out of my window I’m met with various cranes, half built structures and other ugly developments.
Whilst I’m totally for developing the area and using a space to its full potential, every time they knock something down it’s like a piece of my childhood disappears.
Along with these new smart, extravagantly designed buildings and high-rise blocks of flats, comes the middle-class people who are willing to pay double the rent of the old tenants (in this case myself and people I’ve grown up with) for the same flats we live in.
Some landlords (including councils) are so desperate to rent out their properties to people who can afford higher rents, that they are offering current tenants up to £7000!
When I heard about this, I was shocked and refused to believe it, but then I witnessed it with my own eyes. My neighbours that I have known for over 10 years, were offered money to move to the West Midlands and within a month of the offer they were gone.
“They wanted us out so that they could move in city workers and charge more rent.”
After my neighbours left I started noticing this happen again and again. Neighbours that looked after me as a kid, neighbours I’ve played with since I was little, people I’ve shared my life with, all gone. They wanted us out so that they could move in city workers and charge more rent.
I never thought it would happen to my family, but then one morning the letter came. My landlords wanted their flat back. Whilst they had their reasons, I put it down to social cleansing.
Google defines social cleansing as: ‘The large-scale removal from an area of members of a social category regarded as undesirable.’
In my opinion it’s because of this living outside London is quickly becoming the only option for many families. The expensive rent makes it impossible for many to afford to stay in the city they have lived in all their lives.
It’s not only my area though, boroughs such as Southwark and Lambeth are also suffering. I remember a time when Brixton Village in particular was completely different, a place where people would go to shop because it was cheap. Now it’s full of overpriced restaurants and shops where it costs a minimum of £5.00 for a sandwich – where to be honest I’d rather not eat.
What’s the point of regenerating an area if you lose the community?