An e-mail from a squatter

IMG_1465One of the squatters in the former Barclays Bank on Wanstead High Street writes:

Hey guys, one of the squatters here. We are a peaceful bunch, we mean no harm. We found a way in through an open fire door at the side of the building. Maybe the CCTV can pick up on how we entered the bank? We did not enter the resident’s property to gain access to the property.

34 thoughts on “An e-mail from a squatter”

  1. It’s not your property to live in, sunshine. You should see the crummy bedsit I lived in for years when I moved to London. Absolute struggle, but I PAID THE RENT and slowly worked my way up through graft. Not something of which any of this lot would have any understanding.

  2. Breathtaking cheek.

    You mean no harm yet you live within our welfare state while contributing nothing to it. Your continued presence is a two fingers to every other poor b*****d in this town that goes out and works for a living.

    No excuses, you are a disgrace.

  3. Who cares how you accessed the property. You have no right to be there and you debase Wanstead by doing this. Get out. Now.

  4. We should be reassured that Sid and colleagues have the community-mindedness to clarify the situation and try to allay people’s concerns. Squatting in commercial property is not a criminal offence, and it is quite unjustified to make inferences about the lifestyles and societal contribution of these squatters based on, well, nothing at all.

    The building has been left deserted by Sainsburys, to the detriment of our high street, for far too long. They are the ones to whom ire should be directed. Let’s all just get along in the meantime.

    1. I totally agree. I am lucky to be a home owner as was able to get on the property ladder a long time ago. Rent in London is extortionate and prohibitive for many hard working young people. I wish Sid and his housemates all the best. At least they are open and communicative.

  5. Personally, I am glad to see the building serving a useful purpose instead of standing empty. I got back to Wanstead late last night when all the pubs and loos were locked up. I am grateful to one of the guys for letting me in to spend a penny! We spent some time chatting. They are decent guys and the place is spotless but they could do with some furniture if any of you have stuff to give away. I know you won’t all agree with me but please ignore this comment if you wish. Just please don’t unleash a tirade if you disagree; there is enough hate directed at those we disagree with right now…

    1. I agree 101% with you. they are peaceful guys. and the building is been left empty for years. All my solidarity to the guys and the girls who are squatting.

  6. Well, I respectfully disagree. And the hostile views above do not represent us all, although I am sure they represent a good number of people, maybe for the moment, the majority.

    Perhaps we can blame the squatters for all our many real problems, but I have never found it much use to lay the blame for our difficulties at the foot of people who have little power or influence. Always seemed a waste of effort and missed holding accountable those who actually do have power over housing and wages, etc.

    So perhaps instead we can think about how the housing situation in London has been made completely impossible for the huge numbers of young people that we want to live in the capital, but refuse to cater for.

    Or perhaps we want a society in which children stay with their parents until they are 30+? Many of them pushed into low paid work in disappearing service industries that make it a challenge to live independently, let alone raise a family. That’s what I see happening around us on an increasing scale.

    That’s not to take away from the good efforts of people who have tried to do everything by the book. But if people were more prepared to not play strictly by the rules, maybe we might eventually get a fairer game for all of us. It sounds like things are tough all round from the remarks above, but let’s remember these difficulties were in place long before any one squatted an empty, deteriorating, unused building.

    Unless you know something I don’t, I dont know why you assume that the squatters contribute nothing. I know nothing about them. (So maybe I should correct that.) Maybe a small part of their contribution at this very moment will be to remind us all that we need a proper house building and rent policy in London that isnt geared around providing homes for the rich and super-rich.

  7. A lot of assumptions being made by the Wanstead rednecks here ‘beggars, welfare scrongers’ etc. As far as I can see they are doing no harm.

    1. You’re use of the phrase ‘Rednecks’ is bang out of order. I presume you know the history of it.

      1. “Bigoted and opposed to modern ways” is the way Wikipedia describes the modern usage of the term redneck, I don’t assume you are ‘poor white racist trash’ I just can’t agree with your apparent disgust at people who declare they come in peace to use an unused building as temporary refuge.

        When I came to London in ’82 I lived in a short life housing co-op in Dalston. Hackney council gave us properties they couldn’t repair or renovate, we pooled together and made properties safe and liveable, then handed them back when required and moved on,perhaps if you had got off your bum and were community spirited you wouldn’t have had to pay big rent for a squalid bed sit?

  8. Not much to add apart from strongly disagreeing with the red neck views expressed earlier and agreeing with later views of Grace, John T and Stuart.

  9. Reading some of the comments, at a guess, they’re regularly reading the Daily Heil newspaper. It’s an assumption but how else to explain such anger and contempt being directed at others? Be thankful for what you have, likely a nice £800,000+ house in a decent suburb rather than begrudging how little others have.

    1. What crass comments. But how clever of you to make a pun about Nazism and the Daily Mail.

      Oh, and I live in a grotty little rented flat. Where to I sign up for the expensive house?

      1. I can’t lay claim to inventing the nickname “Daily Heil”, that’s a pretty common one used widely. Personally I prefer the nickname the “Daily Hate”, as that’s what it is, a horrible vitriolic and divisive excuse for a newspaper that spouts hate on a daily basis.

    2. Maybe if they got off their bums and started a business like window cleaning, window cleaners are hard to find or gardners they are also in demand. What most of us have is because we have worked hard for and are still working hard for. They had a van to drop them off so now all they need is a pair of ladders and a bucket.

      1. So easy to be judgemental and jump to conclusions without knowing any of the facts whatsoever. For those making these disparaging comments, I’d rather have the squatters as neighbours than you!

  10. Just remember they would have been in your house (whilst you were on holidays) if it were a couple of years ago, before before residential squatting was criminalised.

    It was soooooo nice of them to let you use a toilet that’s not rightfully theirs or that they pay no rent for, how kind.

    Sure we can all squat if we want, and if we did the world would not be a nice place to live in. Let’s hope they are ejected soon legally or otherwise.

  11. If you feel solidarity with these people you might as well support the pickpockets or fly-tippers. They are laughing at you, they’ve claimed the moral high ground and those of us working our balls off to make a living, who see through the political and moral posturing, are called ‘rednecks’ or accused of not caring.

    1. George, you are completely correct and 95% of the country would agree with you. There is a 5% who live in a Guardian bubble and have no concept of decency or fairness, and the use of “redneck” is all the proof you need. These are the same people currently scratching their heads and wondering why the “proles” prefer Farage to Corbyn. Poor dears are totally mystified. We have, of course, more than our fair share in London which is why squatters come here. There are always dippy people who will support them. Until it goes wrong, of course, at which point they are the first to demand that “something is done”.

  12. My guess is that these squatters will vote to wreck the economy that supports them by voting to leave the EU. One word – disgrace.

  13. I totally agree with Grace, Catherine, Stuart, John T

    They are not breaking the law, what harm are they doing?

    Sainsbury’s have kept the building standing empty for long enough. Perhaps your anger & bitterness should be aimed towards them.

    I’m sure Sainsbury’s won’t mind, anyway they want everyone to ‘Live well for less’

  14. Some of those commenting above should check the law. These people have done nothing wrong – good luck to them if they are making use of a property which Sainsburys have left empty and unused for 2 years. There’s a chronic housing shortage in London, £300,000-400,000 pounds to even think of getting on the property ladder in Wanstead, totally out of reach of the ordinary working man/woman. Whose surprised people have to squat.

  15. To everyone that has sympathy for them: this is not their property. Despite being a commercial space and whether it is or is not against the law to stay there, it is not theirs.

    It is the owner’s right to leave it melt or take the time to decide what to do with it.

    All of you that support them in this can go set up camp in the empty plot beside the park on the High St. Surely it annoys you that this plot has been unused for so many years. Down with property rights. Let the revolution begin.

  16. Call me naive, but we really need to be able to talk to each other better than this. If we want to have a mature democracy we have got to be able to disagree without throwing insults and attributing things we can’t possibly know about each other. If I find some of the views about the squatters intolerant and unthinking, I’m not going to provide much of an alternative by simply insulting the people who hold those views. And it’s certainly not going to win over anyone, especially people who are reading rather than writing this stuff. The country seems to be stuck in pretty toxic ways of debating its future at present, and the only people who are enjoying that are the hard right, racists that breed the Tom Mairs of this world.

    While I think George and others aim their anger at entirely the wrong target, allowing those who really exercise influence and power over their lives (come on, George, do you really think a few squatters are going to have any bad impact on your life at all?) the issue of squatting raises many issues to do with a sense of fairness and recognition for many working people. I think those issues can be addressed, but not after I have insulted someone. People tend to stop listening after that.

  17. Incidently, George, we have massive levels of unused buildings in London plus huge demand. That results in an upwards pressure on rent. So, if lots of young people decided to use those empty buildings one possible effect could be your rent comes down, or at least doesn’t go up so much.

  18. I admit it. I was a squatter. Long ago, in Hackney and Southwark.

    I also admit I didn’t smash the places up; scream insults at the neighbours or do vast amount of drugs.

    Instead I helped fix the communal gardens (with others), helped put on a music festival on an estate and lived off Dr Pepper and unheated cornish pasties.

    I’m sorry not to have lived up to the negative stereotypes about squatters – as common now as then – but then I found few squatters did (although quite a few of them were keen on quoting Proudhon – All property is theft). The villains here are Sainsbury’s in keeping the property empty.

    Incidentally the late 60s squatting revival started in Redbridge – see the book ‘The Squatters’ by Ron Bailey and who later founded Shelter. Quite a few Housing Associations started from squat groups.

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