An interview with two ex-squatters

This week the SQUASH Campaign caught up with two ex squatters, Tony Gosling from Bristol, and Eva from London. Here is what was produced.

(SQUASH): So… first things first… what made you decide to squat?
(Tony): I had to… my landlord turned weird on me & I had to get out fast… I also had no deposit
(Eva): I left home when I was 16 and was housed for 4 months in emergency accommodation in a bedsit with a broken lock. Then I was housed in a house for vulnerable women. However the other women living there had mental health problems and I was not informed of this. After a year I left in the middle of the night as I was scared of one of the other tenants. At this point I was 17 and a half. I knew a group of people who had come together initially in response to the criminal justice bill and we had set up various community squats. The next one was to have private living quarters upstairs so I moved in .

(SQUASH): Scary stuff. Your story sounds very similar to a lot of people who get in touch with us today. So what was squatting like when you did it? Was it hard?
(Tony): It was up & down, the first place was easy, then very hard for 4 – 5 months, then after that a great squat for 2 years – then difficult again for 2 years.
(Eva): Most of us got on where I lived so it wasn’t too hard. It was April so it wasn’t cold. We had no hot water so I used to hand wash my clothes in my friends bath every other day as I didn’t have many. And there were lots of events on downstairs; meetings, bands etc. It was quite supportive and definitely safer than the bedsit and the vulnerable women housing project.

(SQUASH): That’s what we’re hearing a lot of people say. Ok, so squatting isn’t easy and it can often not be very comfortable but you still choose to squat for the reason that it’s better than any other option available to you. This is why we see squatting as a direct response to the housing and homelessness crisis. Something which the famous statistician Danny Dorling said recently. Clearly squatting is better than homelessness no question about it. Anyway, moving on… What was different then? Any there any similarities with people still squatting in the UK today?
(Tony): It was generally easier with no police threat and also there were more empty buildings, particularly housing associations.
(Eva): I think in general people need to be really clued up about who they live with as it only takes one element to ruin a shared squat, particularly if its big and lots of people are coming and going.

(SQUASH): It would be interesting to know if you were attacked by the media then as squatters today are?
(Tony): No, we were supported by them and there was a great doc made – possibly one of the last with BBC community programme unit (Link here:
(Eva): I dont think we had any bad press actually, it was a really nice squat. I was doing my A levels and one of my lecturers came round one evening. I think people were curious to see it as it was really big, it had lovely architecture etc.

(SQUASH): So what sort of buildings were people squatting in back in the day?
(Tony): Residential and offices mostly – a few industrial
(Eva): There was an old courthouse, the councils old offices, an old bank, an old clothes shop

(SQUASH): And finally, what do you think about the new criminal offence?
(Eva): I think if its empty let people live there!
(Tony): Well it makes poverty a crime – totalitarian stuff innit?