We will keep on fighting to ensure Holloway Prison site is actually used for public good
15 March, 2019
• AFTER reclaiming Holloway Prison’s visitor centre and working with community groups on a new vision for Holloway, we at Sisters Uncut hope that the new owner, Peabody, will listen to our demands and stick to its promises.
In May 2017, we reclaimed the visitor centre, transforming a space of state violence, holding a week-long community festival with activities and workshops and demanding that the land continues to be used for public good.
We demanded that it be used to provide genuinely affordable housing, and host a women’s building. (“Women’s building” is the language used by Islington Council. We will fight for a building and services that are available to all non-binary, gender non-conforming people and women, and for a name change).
This building could provide services to all women and non-binary people affected by state violence, especially supporting survivors of colour, LGBTQ and disabled survivors.
Peabody reached out to us this week. It has promised a minimum 60 per cent affordable housing provision and a women’s centre on the old prison site.
We are glad to see our demands reflected in Peabody’s statement, and are keen to enter discussions with it to create a new vision for Holloway which works for the community. We remain sceptical until we see our demands met in practice.
Community demands are all too often forgotten or diluted beyond recognition in the implementation phase. We will keep on fighting to ensure this land is actually used for public good, and not just as good PR for Peabody.
One aspect that already gives us concern is the changing of “women’s building” in our initial demands to “women’s centre” in Peabody’s documents. We will hold the council and Peabody to account over our demands to ensure they are not watered down.
We regret that the sale of this land has helped generate income for the Tories’ plan to build new mega-prisons, which slash prison budgets while doing nothing to reduce prisoner numbers.
Prison and detention are dehumanising, racist, classist, sexist and transphobic. We do not believe that prisons offer a solution to crime. We at Sisters Uncut continue to fight state violence and injustice.
Angela Davis, speaking about the reclamation of the prison in 2017, said: “Abolitionist feminism is a response to the carceral feminism of the past. This project will help to create greater insight, and hopefully more action against the prison industrial complex.”
Our demand is that the money made from the sale of the prison be used to fund services in the planned women’s building. Using money from the sale of the site would be a symbol of recognition and reparation for local survivors of domestic and sexual violence and the women of Holloway Prison.
We hope the new site can act as a remedy for the pain so many women suffered at the hands of state violence.