Saturday, 20 February 2016

Feminist Library faces eviction on 1st March – start of Women's History month

Feminist Library faces eviction on 1st March – start of Women's History month
Dear Sisters,

As you can see from the title of this email and the attached press release, the Feminist Library is in an emergency situation, facing eviction within the next 2 weeks after over 30 years in the current building!

We request that you show your support by sharing the press release below to spread the word far and wide and by telling your friends how much the campaign means to you. Other ways that you can help us immediately include:

- by signing our petition
- by sending letters to Southwark local councillors and Southwark MPs: Neil Coyle, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Bermondsey & Old Southwark (the Feminist Library’s constituency) Tel: 020 7219 8733.; Helen Hayes, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Dulwich and West Norwood Tel: 020 7219 6971. Email:; Harriet Harman, Labour Party Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham Tel: 020 7219 4218 Email:
- by donating to our Emergency Fund that has been set up to ensure that the Feminist Library collection's future is safe regardless of the final decision of the council on our current premises;
- by offering a hand with the campaign (we are always on a lookout for new volunteers, but at the moment we urgently need help with events, media, marketing and premises work).

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any further information.
The Feminist Library collective
Feminist Library faces eviction on 1st March – start of Women's History month!
  • For immediate release, 17.2.16
The Feminist Library is about to be thrown out of the building that has been its home for 30 years. [1]
Southwark Council is threatening to close down the Feminist Library on 1st March unless the Library agrees to an immediate increase in our rent from £12,000 to £30,000 a year. The Council's actions could cause the closure of a unique archive with a 40 year history. The Feminist Library has launched a wide-scale campaign, fast gaining international support, to fight the council's decision, including a special appeal to donate to its Emergency Fund. [2]
On 10th February, Southwark Council Cabinet approved a report [3] that ‘highlights the need for a thriving Voluntary and Community Sector that mobilises community action and makes best use of community resources, skills, knowledge and spaces’. Una Byrne, on behalf of the Feminist Library, said: ‘We cannot understand how treating our organisation in such a way is consistent with approving this report.’
Last year the Feminist Library launched a campaign to find a new, permanent home to house this unique resource and community space, currently at risk of being lost forever, and all this effort is now under threat. The Feminist Library is an archival resource which is internationally recognised as of cultural and heritage significance, as well as providing facilities for various women’s and community groups, both local and London-wide.
It is ironic that the Feminist Library is in danger of being made homeless on 1st March, when March is Women’s History Month and 8th March is International Women’s Day.
Many libraries, women’s organisations, and longstanding community projects have been forced to close in the current climate of austerity, including Lambeth Women's Project, Peckham Black Women's Centre, and the London Irish Women's Centre. Southwark Council forcing the Feminist Library to pay market rent immediately is another symptom of this.
Other longstanding tenants in the building are also suffering from this onslaught by Southwark Council. GHARWEG Advice, Training & Careers Centre, which provides vital services for Southwark residents, was given notice of repossession of its lease on 9th February. Like all community organisations, GHARWEG has faced financial constraints recently, and so has been unable to afford market rent. They have been locked out of their offices and their services are being severely affected. This is also ironic, as GHARWEG was an early tenant of the building, which was originally donated by the Greater London Council to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic community groups.
As part of its campaign, the Feminist Library is launching a petition to ask Southwark Council to reconsider its stance. [4]
Minna Haukka, local resident, said: ‘As a Southwark resident I’ve been devastated to hear that we might be soon losing this unique cultural organisation. The Feminist Library is just what we need to hold on to in the Elephant and Castle area right now; a place that brings together women from all backgrounds and of all ages. It’s not only a valuable historical archive – it’s a very much alive and passionate community that Southwark should support and be proud of.’
Dr Laura Schwartz, Associate Professor of Modern British History, University of Warwick, said: ‘The Feminist Library is a wonderful cultural resource that needs to be defended at all costs. Generations of my students have used it for their academic research [...] If the Feminist Library is evicted from its current premises, Southwark Council will not only be guilty of cultural vandalism but also of silencing women.’
  1. The Feminist Library is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary. Since 1987, it has occupied premises in Westminster Bridge Road owned by Southwark Council.
The Feminist Library has an incomparable collection of over 7,000 books, 1500 periodical titles from around the world, archives of feminist individuals and organisations, pamphlets, papers, posters, and ephemera. We also provide space for meetings, readings, exhibitions and events, a space which supports and encourages research, mutual support, activism and community projects, with well over 20 groups having used the events space just in the past calendar year, a number of them national and international. We are volunteer led, as we have been all our life; we are intergenerational, being significant custodians of our feminist heritage, whilst looking to the future; and our approach is intersectional – we provide a space for different feminisms to co-exist. We support not just archiving work, but also publish our own zines and support independent producers and artists. We are a registered charity, and completely self-funding.
  1. More information about how people can help, including donating to our Emergency Fund, can be found at
  1. Details of report ‘Southwark Council Agrees to New Voluntary Sector Strategy’
  1. Link to petition
  1. For further information, for pictures of the Feminist Library and its activities, and of the plaque commemorating the donation of the building to BAME groups, please contact Emma Jennings on
acknowledgements to Mike Shaughnessy

Friday, 19 February 2016


Fundraising walking tour for GLA elections

Meeting place : Farringdon tube (exit on Cowcross Street).

3 April

Time: 2.30pm – 4pm.



Join qualified London Blue Badge Tour Guide and Historian Diane Burstein for
a guided walking tour in Clerkenwell. Sometimes referred to as “London’s
Secret Village” this is an area that has retained its character and has
history around every corner. You’ll see the ancient well which gave the area
its name and visit Clerkenwell Green, the scene of numerous political
rallies. Stand on the spot where Chartists, supporters of the Paris
Communards and other radical groups met throughout the years. View the 16th
century gatehouse of the Priory of St John, a target of Wat Tyler’s rebels
during the Peasants Revolt. See the building which now houses a library
dedicated to Marx where Lenin once worked printing his journal “Iskra”.
Learn about the area’s connection with the Fenians and see the site of the
prison where they were incarcerated. Discover how this area in the former
radical Borough of Finsbury led the way in health and housing for the poor.
Walk through Spa Fields, scene of the famous 1816 riot and finish with a
drink at one of the area’s historic pubs.

Diane is one of London’s best known tour guides, thanks to  her regular
contributions to local radio stations LBC and, currently, BBC London on the
subject of “Secret London”. As a Further Education lecturer, Diane teaches
“Discovering London” courses at London’s leading Adult Education colleges,
City Lit and  Bishopsgate Institute. She loves to show both Londoners and
visitors the more unusual sites away from the tourist trail.  She was a
Green Party candidate in the last local elections.

£10 per head.  Contact

This tour is not confined to Green Party members, so bring everyone you can.

Monday, 15 February 2016

SERTUC Pensioners Network Seminar 2016 Crisis in Care and Caring Tuesday 15 March 2016,

SERTUC Pensioners Network Seminar 2016
Crisis in Care and Caring
Tuesday 15 March 2016, 10 - 3.30pm
Congress House, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3LS

Guest speakers include:

Barbara Keeley MP
Shadow Minister for Older People, Social Care and Carers

 Jan Shortt
Vice President, National Pensioners Convention

Every week we hear about failures in the care services: neglect and ill treatment in residential homes,
limited care times and poor service in users' own homes.
This is aggravated by the bad working conditions and low pay of carers.

What can we do to support and improve conditions both for service users and service providers?
This Seminar will outline the problems of the system, point to new ways forward
and give participants the opportunity to express their own views.

There is no charge for this event. It is FREE.
Congress House is a fully accessible building
Lunch will be provided

If interested in attending please respond to
this email or call 02020 7467 12

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Pension funds, not ministers should decide where to invest their members’ money (Unison press release)

Pension funds, not ministers should decide where to invest their members’ money
(Unison press release:
Local government pension funds must be able to decide where to invest their money in the best interests of present and future pensioners, and should not have their investment decisions dictated by the government, says UNISON today (Thursday).
Ministers have drawn up plans to enable the 89 funds that make up the local government pension scheme (LGPS) to pool their combined assets so that they are large enough to invest in huge infrastructure projects.
To allow the LGPS funds to invest in big projects like new motorways, bridges or housing developments, the government wants to see the creation of wealth pools that are at least £25bn in size.
While UNISON is not opposed to the funds coming together so they can invest on a grander scale, the union is much less enthusiastic about the government being able to direct where scheme members’ money is invested.
It must be the combined funds – and not government ministers – that decide where to invest scheme members’ future incomes, in ways that are in their best interests, and not that of the government, says UNISON.
The union believes union-nominated representatives should be appointed to the new pool governance structures so that any investment works for the millions of teaching assistants, refuse collectors, homecare workers and other town hall workers whose pensions are held by the scheme, says UNISON.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Pension funds are supposed to invest for the benefit of fund members, and should not be used as a substitute for investment that should be coming from the public purse.
“Making pension funds plough their assets into the latest government initiative could very well mean poor returns for workers in the LGPS pension scheme. Funds should not have to risk gambling away their members’ retirement incomes by subsidising an infrastructure project that should be funded from government coffers or by the private sector.
“The local government pension scheme should not be a sovereign wealth fund for the government to spend as it sees fit.”
Notes to editors:
– A pensions briefing on the government plans is available here
– UNISON has long argued that the LGPS should be ‘cost transparent’ and welcomes the proposal that the asset pools should be. Transparency will allow funds to make significant improvements in investment returns, says UNISON.
– UNISON has argued that the LGPS should invest in line with European law, just like other pension funds, and should not be singled out for special intervention.
– The government is consulting on a ‘pooling’ of the LGPS funds and investment criteria. The consultation ends on 19 February 2016.
– The England/Wales LGPS Scheme Advisory Board, the Law Commission and UNISON have requested that the government apply the investment regulations applicable to all other pension funds in the UK and the European Union – EU Directive 41/2003 Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP).
– All UNISON press releases can be found
Media enquiries:
Alan Weaver T: 020 7121 5555 M: 07939 143310
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7121 5463 M: 07778 158175
Fatima Ayad T: 020 7121 5255 M: 07508 080383

Posted on28 January 2016