A message to the convergence, from SQUASH

Hello, friends, fellow squatters and mischief makers.

I am sorry someone from SQUASH couldn’t be there, but in our absence there’s a few things I’d like to say. Especially to you lot from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2012 the ConDeM coalition rushed through a law which would criminalise squatting in residential buildings. When Lawyers, Politicians, Lords, Ladies, homeless charities and even the Police were all saying it was a bad idea. Most importantly the vast majority of those who had squatted or new people who were squatting and understood the issues at hand were saying no as well. The general public was softened up to the idea by years of right wing media vilification. So there were no riots on the streets when they sneaked it onto the legal aid bill.

Squatters were attacked by Politicians such as Mike Weatherley who had decided that rather than try to solve any of the real issues, he would try and score political points by crusading against a minority group. Squatters across the country mobilised and fought the proposed law on many fronts. 1000‘s signed petitions, protests were held where heads were split open by the truncheons of the police, press stunts, celebrities and journalists and so many more came to speak up for squatting as lifeline for the most vulnerable in society. Alas it was not enough to defeat the powerful elites. They passed the law and on the 1st September 2012 it came into effect.

Since then we have seen the ill thought out law wreak havoc in peoples lives. Alex Haigh was its first victim. He was completing an internship as a bricklayer and started to squat when he found himself homeless with no place to go. The sentenced him to 12 weeks in prison. Upon hearing the news his father said “They have made an example of him. To put him in that prison environment, I don‘t understand it.” Cameron Makepeace was another victim. Just 18 years old he started to squat after losing his apprenticeship and having problems getting job seekers‘ allowance and housing benefit. WE WILL NEVER FORGET Daniel Gauntlett who died on the porch of a boarded up Bungalow. The police had come round earlier that week to inform him that if he went inside he would be arrested.

In light of all this SQUASH launched the REPEAL S144 campaign where they provided a body of evidence as to why the law was unnecessary and unjust. (see below) for full details.

Now not content with the hurt and destruction they have caused with criminalising squatting in residential buildings Mike Weatherleys and his gang decided they were going to try and make it a jailable offence to squat in commercial property as well. This time they’ve even got some labour politicians involved. Including Chuka Umunna the shadow business secretary. One of the reasons they give is that since the ban on residential there has been a spike in squatting in commercial buildings… Needless to say most of these people are heartless pricks who would do just about anything to secure a financial contribution to their party. Due to direct actions by squatters all over the country, strategic lobbying by SQUASH and others and a sustained media campaign the governments official line is that they will not go after commercial squatting in this term of government, but its on the agenda if the Tories are reelected.

Now is not the time to sleep though. Now is the time to shout. Over the past few years the reputation of squatters has been dragged through the mud. This has resulted in a bad public perception of squatters. If you are doing positive squatting actions, why not tell people about them. In your local newspaper, on twitter and on facebook. Write a blog, take pictures, make a movie. It’s time to reclaim squatting’s place as a lifeline for the most vulnerable, the fuel of culture and an avenue to voice descent outside of the mainstream. Use hash tags like #madepossiblebysquatting and #lovesquatting, speak to your neighbours. So many choose a life of squatting to reclaim part of their individuality, but the harsh reality is that if you speak as a squatter now you speak for thousands of people. People like Daniel Gauntlett who may still be alive today if he were able to take refuge in an empty bungalow without fear of arrest.

We need to be organised and prepared so make sure at events like this you leave with lots of peoples email addresses and phone numbers so if they come we are more prepared than ever. Most importantly realise that you are a part of a 400 year old tradition and that we all have a responsibility to the next generation of squatters.

Enjoy the week in Ireland and Solidarity to all those fighting housing struggles where ever they may be.

-Member of SQUASH

SQUASH is always happy to help with issues regarding the media. So if you’d like some
advice on how to convey your message don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail.

SQUASH is always looking for people who feel comfortable speaking to the media and may
also be able to provide training to do so. We also need people to help plan campaigns and
projects. So if you’d like to get involved please let us know

info@squashcampaign.org

www.squashcampaign.org

——————————-

Repeal Law

On 4 March 2013, SQUASH launched a new campaign and report at a meeting in the House of Commons of concerned MPs, Lords, lawyers, homelessness groups, academics, campaigners and squatters.

The campaign is calling for a repeal of Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill (LASPO), the new criminal offence of squatting in a residential building. A petition has been set up here.

Here are 10 reasons why:

1. The new law is unnecessary and obsolete. Home-owners were already protected by the Criminal Law Act 1977, which made squatting in someones home or a home that someone intends to move into a criminal offence. Nearly every article on squatting in the tabloids up to now has failed to mention this.

2. Homelessness rates are soaring and predicted to rise even further due to government cuts and the recession. Since 2009 the government has slashed funding to homelessness services and is now pushing ahead with cuts to housing benefits.

3. We are in one of the worst housing crises this country has ever seen but at the same time there are over 1 million properties sitting empty across the UK – this figure is still rising. Criminalisation protects the ‘rights’ of owners to profit on the property market by keeping buildings empty, over people’s right to shelter.

4. Rents have spiralled out of control. Whilst politicians and sections of the media seek to demonise all squatters as freeloaders, there are more and more people who simply simply can’t afford rental accommodation and are turning to squatting out of desperation, including teachers, nurses and students.

5. 40% of single homeless people have squatted as an alternative to street sleeping. Criminalising squatting is criminalising vulnerable homeless people during a housing crisis. Innocent people are being put in jail for trying to gain a roof over their head.

6. Because alternatives to homelessness are dire; hostels, b&b’s and temporary accommodation are often overcrowded, unsafe and inadequate solutions which undermine human dignity and decency. ‘Social housing’ is now increasingly provided by unaccountable private companies rather than elected local councils.

7. If predictions from respected housing academics prove correct and if the MOJ continues prosecuting at the rate it anticipates, criminalisation will cost up to £790 million over 5 years due to the costs of extra policing, prosecution and the extra burden on the housing benefit system.

8. The law was rushed through Parliament. 3 days before the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill passed the House of Commons, the clause to criminalise squatting was “sneaked in”. There was no specialist input from legal experts or academics regarding what effect the legislation would have.

9. Mike Weatherley MP, one of the main voices behind criminalisation, is possibly the worst politician ever to have been born. His brand of fantastical Tory rhetoric blurs the real issues by painting all squatters as ‘window -smashing- anarcho- hippie- dope- youth- lefty- scarecrows’. We know that this just isn’t the case.

10. Because we want to live in a society where people aren’t forced to squat rather than being criminalised for having to.

WHERE TO GO?!?!

when you arrive in dublin, make your way down to the Cobblestone Pub at 77 North King St. in Smithfield, Dublin 7.

From there, follow the squatter symbol to find your way….

🙂

if you have any problems, you can contact us at any time by calling:
00 353 89 956 8304

PREPARE FOR PINK BLOC

Saturday, September 27th, marks International Decriminalisation of Abortion Day.
In Ireland, abortion is still illegal and people are unable to get safe access to it here at home. On this day, Dublin will see it’s third annual March for Choice, and we will make our voices heard.

For this reason, we have decided to leave half of Saturday open, without workshops, so as to encourage international folks to go out and show support.

We want you, squatters coming for the convergence, to know that a call-out has been made by anonymous individuals for folks to come to the march wearing all pink, to form a Pink Bloc that will clearly and publicly offer information about accessing abortion from Ireland.

We ask that you bring any pink clothing you have (we know, not easy, perhaps) to be part of the madness and show your solidarity with the people calling for safe access to abortion.

Questionnaire to prepare for the ‘Changes in UK Squatting Law’ talk.

The person who is offering the talk on ‘Changes in UK Squatting Law’ has asked for folks who are interested in attending the talk to fill out and e-mail him this questionnaire so he can better prepare and round the talk for all of yous. here it is…
Thanks!

Hey everyone! I’m writing a talk for the International Squatter’s Convergence in late September on the changes in the England and Wales squatting law, and was wondering if, for the purposes of the talk, you would like to answer the three questions below.

Your answers don’t have to be long, and nothing will be quoted directly and you will remain anonymous. I’m just trying to source some different ideas and perspectives, so it’d be a great help. Thanks! You can email captainoftherant@riseup.net with your answers.

1)Why do you think the government banned squatting in residential properties?
2)What do you think are the greatest impacts of the changes in the squatting law?
3)If you squat or have squatted after the ban, how have things changed for you personally?

Accommodation

yes! so it’s come to our attention that it may not be as obvious as we had hoped, and we should be more clear we have a squatted space for everyone to sleep in! it’s going to be a fairly bare space… so bring your own sleeping bag and mat and headlamp/flashlight/torch 🙂 and if you have a tent please bring it! (there will be space for tents)

also! if you’re arriving in dublin early, on either tuesday or wednesday night, you should head down to Seomra Spraoi, dublin’s autonomous, anti-capitalist social centre, for the vegan cafe nights!

so! someone bought a ticket, wrong date (WED). anyone want it ?

someone has emailed us asking us if we know anyone who wants a ticket from london to dublin for wednesday, september 24th.
they accidentally bought a ticket for the wrong date, and would like to be able to get some of the money they spent back,
though less than what they got it for (they’re asking for £30)

i think its a rail n sail ticket, but im not sure. still waiting for a response to hear more details on what time it leaves and whatnot…

but if this helps you out and you think you want it, shoot us an email: convergence@squatte.rs
and we’ll put you in contact with them! 🙂

T r a v e l l i n g .to.dublin…

So, you’ve got a few options…

From Mainland Europe

  1. Ferry !

    If you’re coming from continental Europe, you can catch a ferry from cherbourg, france to rosslare, ireland (which is then only 2.5 hours drive to dublin -  pretty easy hitch)

    • if you buy a passenger ticket, it’s around €50-80 depending on the company and the time of year.
    • OR you can hitch into a car that is driving onto the ferry, and convince them to add you on as a passenger in their vehicle. adding a passenger is between €20–25 . (this information was accurate for someone who hitched with a car in january 2014 probably with Stenaline – THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE WIT IRISH FERRIS and maybe not brittany ferries either – Stenaline only leaves from Cherbourg)
    • or steal a bus, and pick up all the hitchhikers on their way over. a vehicle ticket is between €100 and €200 just look it up online.
  2. Fly

    yes, its fucking shit – ecologically, and having to deal with the disgustingly oppressive bureaucracy of airports and borders – but its pretty fucking cheap.

  3. hitch onto a boat making the journey. (dont know anyone whos done this from france yet, but its definitely possible.
    uh… good luck.)
  4. different options for coach/ferry ensembles – sometimes theyre pretty cheap

From the UK

So it might make sense for you to come via the UK if you’re coming from Northern Europe.
You can hitchhike the ferries at Calais, as you don’t have to pay extra to put extra folks in the car, so it’s free! Also the eurotunnel is hitchable but hard to find a spot to stand in France.
So when you arrive you’ll be on the South East coast of England, which means you still have to get across the UK to Ireland..
Or you might just live in England, Wales or Scotland, so your options are..

  1. different options for coach/ferry ensembles – sometimes theyre pretty cheap. from the UK, check out megabus , eurolines, or:
  2. rail & sail – a ticket you can buy online (its a cheap train & ferry combo ——-NOTE: someone booked a ticket for wrong date and is wondering if anyone was interested – its on wednesday (24th) – london to dublin. And they’re willing to sell it cheaper, meaning 30euros for the ticket, contact the convergence@squatte.rs email so we can put you in touch.
  3. hitch and sail (Holyhead/North Wales to Dun Laoghaire)

    so right now there’s an offer on stenalines to get here for a fiver, if you do it on a tuesday & book 2 weeks in advance. check it out here
    (it’s a return ticket but you can just skip your trip back)
    else it’s a tenner on other days of the week which is still easy enough!
    Dun Laoghaire is just in the South of Dublin, you can get public transport to the center from there/hitch a ride off the boat.

  4. hitch the boat (Holyhead/North Wales to Dublin)

    The boat is hitchable from Wales to Dublin, but security don’t like it and you’ll still have to pay a bit (between €12 and €20)

    At the port at Holyhead, wait until there’s a long line of cars and then ask the cars at the back of the queue, to avoid being seen by security. Security will ID you and try to convince cars not to take you, so it’s best if they never see you!

Dogs

Please bring your dogs 🙂

Some advice on that..

You’re gonna need all your vaccinations up to date, rabies jabs and your pet microchipped. Unless you have a very small dog that can hide up your t-shirt.

From mainland Europe

You can apparently take your dog on for free on the ferry Cherbourg (France) to Rosslare (South East coast of Ireland). So if you’re hitching this ferry you might be able to bring your dog on, but it says you should book in advance..
We’d love to hear from anyone with experience of that!

Via or from the UK

So you can hitch your dogs into cars at Calais, but you’ll have to pay 15euros, and the dog will have to stay in the car for the ferry journey (which is like an hour & a half)..

Then the ferries Holyhead (north Wales) to Dublin are a bit complicated, but very possible.
If you want to travel as a foot passenger, you need a cage for your dog to travel in.
If you’re coming with a bike, you may be able to bike on with your dog and then there are cages on the boat for them to stay in for the duration (and it’s free).
If you’re hitching (or you’re driving), it’s also free with the dog, and you can leave the dog in the car or put them in the cages..
That means you have a pretty good blag for hitching (“I came as a foot passenger but can’t take my dog on so have to find a ride..!”)

UPDATES!

Hey!

So we’ve been getting some emails asking about accommodation…
there will indeed be squatty accommodation  – we ask that folks bring their own sleeping bags and sleeping mats if possible!

  • and we still will need loads of help with kitchen stuff, among other jobs – please let us know if you can volunteer!
  • also, as much as we’d love to, we can’t help people with funding to get up to dublin. if you’re able to, we suggest that you put on a fundraiser gig at your local social space/squat for you and your buds and your community to get up here!

(we’ll try and add more updates regularly as it gets closer to the date – including, eventually, info for a rendezvouz point for the event!)