Rolling coverage from the occupation of a disused bank at 2A Charing Cross Roa, where activists have created a community space to highlight the scandal of homelessness
Homeless people in central London have occupied a former Natwest bank and converted into a community space to highlight the triple scandal of bank bailouts, homelessness and the housing crisis in London and beyond. #peoplesbanklondon
If you can get down to 2A Charing Cross Road (Map) please bring any food, clothing, sleeping gear, cooking equipment, toiletries, Xmas supplies etc that you have. If you know anyone who is experiencing homelessness please bring them along and generally spread the word. See the wishlist for ways you can support the action.
Clare Solomon reports, 7pm 24 December 2014
Judge rules the eviction illegal - occupiers to return
Update, the judge has ruled the eviction as illegal and we will be returning to the building shortly! Thanks to all those who have supported us.
Clare Solomon video reports, 5pm 24 December 2014
Clare Solomon reports, 11am 24 December 2014
Illegal eviction underway
URGENT: the People's Bank are being illegally evicted right now. Legal advice needed asap as to the legalitly of the paperwork and what is happening to the occupiers.
If you're in London please come urgently and make as much noise as possible, police have taped off the street as bailiffs illegally evict homeless people from 2a charring cross road.
Please share and register your disgust at the state evicting homeless people from an unusued building. They should bailout people not banks.
Norbert Lawrie reports, 5am 24 December 2014
We are in the belly of the beast...
Another great day of work and activities at the former bank taken over by the people for the people on Charing Cross Road, more about that in a moment.
The squat was also served with a claim form for possession of the property from the High Court of Justice Chancery Division. This was expected and we remain pleased that we will hold the property over the Christmas holidays. A hearing is set for the 29 December and we are preparing our case, we will be looking for an adjournment to a latter date as there has been breaches of the legal process by the owners, who we can now name as Greencap Limited, there are further grounds upon which to seek an adjournment and these matters have been referred to our legal representatives and working group. I am unable to go into any details at this stage for obvious reasons but will keep everyone informed as and when it is safe to do so.
We are not worried about the latest developments, its all part of the course comrades.
The Occupation has become London's latest attraction with tourists and Christmas shoppers who are taking photos of our poster filled windows and homemade banners hung and suspended from the building.
Our numbers are still steadily growing and we have received many visitors, including families with children who have brought with them the spirit of Christmas as children do at this time of the year and a great boost of encouragement for those of us who know that what we are doing, has as much to do with their future housing needs.
We were very pleased to have been visited by Clare Solomon the Peoples Assembly against Austerity and would like to thank her for all the help and support given in preparing to meet our aim of providing Christmas dinner for the street homeless, we would also like to thank our visitors who have made donations of £140 and in particular comrades from South West London who gave £60, a very big thank you to all.
The moral confidence, the morale spirits of the occupation is running high if not into overdrive as we bounce of each other and continue to fortify the building in the event of eviction, successful workshops were held in the evening on all aspects of establishing, securing and maintaining good squats. A film was shown of the recent struggles of the Greek working class followed by a very lively discussion. The workshop program and a planned series of future events is ongoing and will post details when they become available.
We are all agreed about one thing and that’s this; it’s so good to be in the belly of the beast, and we believe that our occupation can help to bring about change and that we can all work in whatever small way to secure the right to have and hold affordable and secure (council) homes for all.
Please continue to come on down and visit us as our doormat always says welcome.
10am December 23rd 2014
Three days into occupying a former bank owned by Natwest but sold on to property developers, it’s new inhabitants a group of squatters composed of homeless people are wasting no time in transforming the building into a people friendly facility and putting it back onto good use. In the community space which is on the ground floor, posters and information are going up on the walls, there are plans to organise a library and today workshops are to be held this evening including a film showing.
Occupation numbers are now starting to grow with homeless people taking space on one of the 5 floors, the whole place is taking on a close family environment with everyone helping each other and of course new friendships are being forged in that process.
I visited the squat yesterday as I have done from the beginning and helped out with skipping for food, skipping food is the term given to the act of salvaging food that has, for one reason or another, ended up in somebody’s bin – usually that of a supermarket. London's West End shops and restaurants throw away tons of good food every day and we have a growing family to feed, plus we have plans to feed the homeless over Christmas. I personally feel we’ve an obligation to use every ounce of food we can, given the amount of energy, destruction and exploitation that is embodied in our diet today.
Word is now getting out that this is going to be a major squat and battle for housing, that is feeding into the bigger struggle in London and around the country, yesterday we were visited by the Guardian newspaper. Last night a media working party was held so as to prepare ourselves and others for a possible invasion of interest.
Well that’s my update for now comrades and in ending I would just like to say that we are very pleased to be holding
the squat over Christmas and indeed into the New Year. I will endeavor to keep people up to date with developments as and when they happen, will be spending my Christmas with my Comrades at 2a Charing Cross Road. So all that’s left to do is to wish everyone a lovely, peaceful Christmas.
10am December 22 December
The occupation is now taking root and settling in, the building is a hive of activity, yesterday the occupants were very busy securing and strengthening security, there are now about 30 people making good use of the space which otherwise had been left empty for the last two years, that’s 5 enormous floors in the heart of London's West End. Just a stones throw from Trafalgar Square, across the road is the National Portrait Gallery and a very short distance away is St Martins-in-the-Fields.
The squatters are creating a great atmosphere of warmth inside the building of togetherness and determination to hold the building, house the homeless and be a small part of the campaign against austerity and the national housing crisis now gripping the country which will see 90,000 children homeless this Christmas. So our demands are quite simple, I was told by one occupier:
“what we want is homes, we want affordable homes and we want them now.”
A steady stream of visitors are now beginning to visit the squat which is very much welcomed by all and a great opportunity to witness at first hand the corporate property that is lying empty going to waste whilst thousands are homeless, nothing more than a national outrage and a scandal.
Yesterday, the squat enjoyed a visit from the Focus E15 Mothers a great honour and they were given a grand tour of the building, representatives of South London People’s Assembly against Austerity visited shortly after and a big thank you to them for the donations of tea bags, sugar and medication to treat colds.
There is indeed lots more that I would like to say but my time is taken up supporting the occupation in practical ways, I have been working with these lovely people for some months now they are my comrades my friends and I’m so proud of them all. We will know in the next two days if we are able to hold the building over Christmas, the feeling is it is most likely, then that would be a major victory in itself as we have plans to feed the street homeless organise activities such as holding meetings and lectures with guest speakers and so on but more about that in the fullness of time.
Just to say in bringing the post to an end for now, the squat invites everyone to come along and visit, tea bags, coffee and sugar always appreciated and if anyone has a cordless drill and bits we could make good use of that to improve security.
10am December 21 December
London homeless takeover former bank on Charing Cross Road
The next 48 hours will be nail-biting, if the owners are able to obtain an IPO then it will be back to the start and the streets, however if we are able to hold the building into Christmas then we will invite London's homeless into sharing and taking a space within the building, so long as they and everyone understand, that this is a peaceful occupation and unlike the owners of the building who have left it standing empty for 2 years whilst thousands are sleeping on London's West End streets... we intend to respect the building, protect it and put it to good use and support the London homeless this winter.
Norbert Lawrie is a former homeless advice worker and campaigner of many years standing. He has been an executive member of CHAR the former campaign for single homeless people, and has been instrumental in gaining council tenancies for hundreds of homeless people including children living in hostel accommodation. Norbert maintains an ongoing relationship with the London street homeless and the squatting movement.