17 June 2023

Social housing activist compelled to decline MBE as crisis ‘should not exist’

17 June 2023

An activist who highlights the health and safety of tenants living in social housing across the UK said he has been “compelled” to decline an offer to become an MBE.

Kwajo Tweneboa, 24, took to social media to say he was offered an MBE last month, but made the decision to decline it – saying he could not receive the title off the back of an issue which “should never have existed”.

Mr Tweneboa, from Mitcham, uses his online platform to highlight the issues of tenants living in social housing across the country, but he has also raised problems for those living in private and temporary accommodations.

Mr Tweneboa speaks out for tenants who feel their living conditions are unsafe, which can pertain to black mould, leaks, flooding, asbestos, pests and rodents, or other circumstances where they feel their rights are being challenged.

In a statement posted to Twitter, Mr Tweneboa said he felt “compelled” to turn down the offer, adding that some people across the UK are living in what he said could only be described as “slum conditions”.

Mr Tweneboa’s statement reads: “I want to start by thanking whoever chose to nominate me, as I have no doubt it came from a good place.

“So much grief and suffering has happened as a result of the poor state of Housing in the UK, with the vulnerable and poorest most ignored.

“Some living in, what can only be described as: slum conditions.

“On the 14th of June 2017, 72 innocent men, women and children, tragically – and prematurely – lost their lives in Grenfell Tower, through no fault of their own.

“A disaster that never should have happened.

“Since then, campaign groups like Grenfell United, Shelter and many others have stood side by side demanding systemic change.

“While brave tenants have shared their own experiences, in order to highlight the sheer lack of progress and accountability since Grenfell, many continue to suffer…

“Therefore, I cannot accept being honoured or receiving a title off the back of an issue, which realistically, should never have existed, and in saying that, I felt compelled to turn it down.”

Mr Tweneboa’s statement added that he has written to the Prince and Princess of Wales to inform them of his decision and to express his interest in working with them to raise awareness surrounding the social issues which he said cause “needless suffering to minority groups across the UK”.

He continued, saying he wished to acknowledge the Prince of Wales’ recent work surrounding homelessness.

“It can only be positive to see meaningful change across lots of other important Social issues, whilst giving a platform, an ear, and a hand to help those most ignored and neglected,” he wrote.

“Thanks to all who continue to support.”

In 2021, Mr Tweneboa was living in a council house in Mitcham with his two siblings.

At the time, he described the conditions to the PA news agency as being “unlivable” and “not even fit for animals”.

He said he was driven to share pictures on social media of his dilapidated housing out of sheer desperation, images which depicted his rotten kitchen, mouldy wallpaper and waterlogged cabinets.

The housing association responsible took action and as a result, the flat was repaired.

Since then, Mr Tweneboa has become a champion for those living in similar conditions up and down the country, prompting landlords and housing associations to take urgent action and make repairs.

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