25th June, 2020
This book is from 56a Archive, a highly-recommended social centre in Elephant And Castle, London.
Diary Of A Squat was written by Jean Delarue during his time spent at 1 Clapham Road, an autonomous housing project for people who were homeless during Margaret Thatcher’s 1980s.
It was situated in Belgrave Children’s Hospital, a tall and ornate red-brick Victorian ‘arts and crafts’ landmark building that still stands opposite Oval Tube Station.
1 Clapham Road housed migrants finding their feet, pensioners without pensions, ex-prisoners, thieves, depressed philosophers, drug addicts and middle-class idealists. In other words, a genuine counter culture (as opposed to the type that is marketed by a record label or an art gallery).
The book chronicles capitalism’s castaways tenderly building a community, while the usual suspects throw spanners in the works. The council, church and charities offer (or enforce) their irritating interferences; hacks swoop for sensational scoops but are schooled on journalism ethics then sent packing; authoritarian individuals try to seize power but the squatters, wise to their game, “choose freedom and equality rather than three cooked meals a day and a TV”.
Some of Jean’s ideas and language will now be frowned upon in leftie circles, but bare with him because the broader lessons (less theory, more practical application, less dogma, more acceptance) are excellent and can be applied to our present predicaments.
Thirty years later we have Thatcherism on steroids. The inevitable tents and sleeping bags in every urban nook and cranny. Enforcement officers to sweep the problem under the carpet. Property value that results in far less places of refuge. Charity complexes to quell the liberals.
But we also have similar glimmers of hope: while local councils sat on their hands during 2018’s freezing winter, the excellent Streets Kitchen went hands-on and opened Sofia House in Central London. Museum of Homelessness is very worth donating to as well. Anyone who listens to this and has time and money should direct it towards these ‘solidarity not charity’ type operations.
Enough blurb. Stream audio (for mobile) or download the complete zip file including photos and more info here.
23rd March, 2020
This past Tory decade has left public services looking like a bicycle locked up too long in East London: valuable parts stolen, everything else rusted. And if the service still has two wheels then I guarantee it doesn’t have the suspension to cope with bumps… and… COVID-19 isn’t a bump, it’s an assault course.
Prisons are Petri dishes for this pandemic. Overcrowded, understaffed, completely filthy, full of vulnerable individuals without the agency to self isolate. Telephones shared by hundreds while soap is no longer given out as standard: personal hygiene is now a privilege.
The risk of unrest is sky high, but more importantly, a failure to take immediate robust action begins to look like the death penalty by any other name.
Read the whole article at Freedom News here.Tweets by HMPSurvival
British prisons are petri dishes for this pandemic Freedom News 2020
Scratchy tracksuits and emotional hell Daily Mail 2015
Offender DOPE 2018
TV & RADIO
Concerts Inside, BBC Radio 4 2019