Squat: The neighbour writes

After the e-mail from a squatter which we published on Wansteadium last week, we received this from Jamshed, who lives in the flat above the former Barclays Bank which is being occupied by reportedly up to 20 squatters.


My name is Jamshed and I and my family live in the flat above of the old Barclays building. I am the guy who is wearing grey tracksuit with crutches on the left of the photo. Some of you could see me and recognise me in a British Red Cross uniform as I often volunteer for them, or have seen me every morning on the bus stop with my and my neighbours’ kids when I take them to school.

First of all I would like to thank everyone here who has left supportive comments and raised concerns about us, those who have been affected most. Your support came in the right moment to us as all authorities have failed to protect us – police, council, landlord, Sainsbury’s. We left feeling vulnerable and unsafe. It is your support that is giving us some comfort and hope that this will end someday hopefully soon. I am a regular reader.

It is a fact that they had been in our private residential area. They have admitted that themselves. They have left one of their notices on our internal side door – so it is an evidence that they were there. My son saw them early in the morning when he went to take his shoes. When we realised that it left us feeling very insecure. I had to cancel my work shift and come back to stay with my wife and one-year-old daughter as my wife was scared and didn’t want to stay alone.

I am a regular reader here. I have only decided to write this when I read an article about the email from one the squatters. For me it looked like their attempt to paint to you an image of their goodness. Many of us are aware that squatting to non-residential property is not illegal. But THEY know it much more than of all of us. Look here: www.squatter.org.uk. I did go through the website and tried to get an answer for what is the purpose, aim, goals, calls of the squatting and squatters and found nothing but information of how to squat without having a problems for someone who want to squat.

Here is definition of the squatting: “Squatting is when someone deliberately enters property without permission and lives there, or intends to live there. This is sometimes known as ‘adverse possession’.” And here is definition of what is non residential property: “A non-residential property is any building or land that isn’t designed to be lived in.”

The key for me here is “without permission” and “not designed to live”. As you all know the building was under renovation. All utilities, such as water, gas and electricity were shut and off. Unauthorised use of them is potentially hazardous of fire, flood and explosion. Now you might not be aware but even they themselves are claiming that there are about 20 squatters, may be even more. Imagine and guess how and where they are performing their daily hygienic needs.

I have issues with these squatters group in particular:
* Their identities are not known to any authorities, nor does anyone know their exact quantity. I would like to point here out that they don’t have to provide their IDs to me or any other public members. But if they claim that they are some sort of activists, and don’t have anything to hide, that they are law abiding and peaceful people, why not let at least some of the authorities to know about who are they are. So we, public, will have some peace in mind. No trust – no love.
* Hazards from living in completely in unlivable place, which could bring danger to me and my family and my neighbours. No trust – no love. Otherwise, had they come with clearer intentions, with true full stories and lawful actions I would have been probably one of the first ones here, in Wanstead, to offer you some sort of support. And it is not just a words in the current circumstances – I am a long standing active volunteer and offer my needed help for vulnerable people on regular basis.

Yes they can claim that they don’t have a shelter and that government doesn’t provide one to them. But this should not justify or give them a right to come to private property and occupy it, be it owned by an individual, housing association, or corporation. No one should resolve their problems at the expense of others.

If they claim that they want to bring an attention to the housing crisis and empty buildings, than they have to do the extensive research, find empty properties which belong to authorities who are in charge of this housing crisis and occupy them if you know if it’s lawful. But they should not go to every single empty-looking building and stay there as it will be pointless for their aims. I would like to remind you that even that many people didn’t like an idea of Sainsbury’s coming to the High Street and it’s taking too long now, still they were working under this project, therefore this building cannot be count as abandoned.

I cannot express here whole levels of distress it have caused to me and my family. And I know that some people will still try to sympathise and support them. And I don’t have any issues with that. But for now I thought I should share with you the other side of the story, the side of directly affected people.

My regards to all of you,

5 thoughts on “Squat: The neighbour writes”

  1. Hello all commenters
    Thanks for taking part in the debate about the squat – it is appreciated. Please though remember the Wansteadium house rules for comments – they should be polite, constructive and if possible friendly.

  2. An eloquent and measured response given your circumstances. Whilst I am one who would generally sympathise with the squatters it’s all easy to forget the actual impact on the residents who are in the flats above the property. Completely understand concerns regarding sanitation if there is no water supply and concerns that utilities may be tampered with. It’s tricky, as squatters taking up residence in disused commercial space I don’t have an issue with but the water is definitely muddied with residents living in the same building.

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