1) Sign this petition calling for the repeal of section 144 LASPOA, the law which makes it a criminal offense to enter an empty, derelict “residential” premises (“residential” here includes many institutional buildings like vacant care homes, hostels, etc).
2) Endorse this Letter: If you are a member of a student union, trade union, anti-cuts group or any other body, talk to your group about endorsing this letter which sets out why the government should not even consider extending criminalisation to commercial premises and occupations.Those organisations/ politicians who have already signed, include the unions NUS, NUT, CWU, PCS, Jeremy Corbyn MP and John McDonnell MP. Full list of signatories here.
3) Write to your MP Write to your MP and raise your concerns about the further criminalisation of squatting (ie in commercial premises), especially if the issue raises its head in Parliament again. Keep your eyes peeled for alerts on SQUASH and other squatting media. There’s a sample email here. You can find out who your MP is at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/.
4) Destroy the Reputation of anti-squatting Members of Parliament and Press Outlets: for example, MP Mike Weatherley, who was the main force behind criminalising residential of squatting, was constantly derided and many of his public events drew protests. Other activities, which have and could be used, including, asking awkward questions at public appearances, mock evictions, twitter storms and occupations of surgeries. Apart from Weatherley (who is not longer an MP), vocal anti-squatting politicians include MP Tracey Crouch (Tory), Chris Grayling, Mike Freer (Tory), Chuka Umunna (Labour), Cllr Lib Peck (Labour), and Dawn Butler MP (Labour). Anti-squatting news outlets include the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard. Let them know what you think.
5) Organise a Publicity Stunt for Squatting: whether resisting an illegal eviction, squatting a building with a certain significance, or challenging a politician/ the media, keep us in the loop. We are happy to publish communiqués, publicise upcoming events and generally support stunts which promote squatting. Please ensure that you have had some media training before dealing with the mainstream media, as they are well-known to twist stories to their own agenda.
6) Support Your Local Squats: when squats appear in your local area, it is important to their longevity to have community support on their side. This can include checking in to see how things are going, helping with access to water and electricity, advocating for them, providing information about the landlord/building, being present at evictions, and so on. See the article: “6 Reasons to Support Your Local Squats” by Izzy Koksal and Luke Sheldon [Novara Wire, 2015]
7) Help out with SQUASH & Other Squatting Groups: If a future threat appears, with respect extending criminalisation to commercial property, a new group will need to be assembled to head off any further Parliamentary legislation. If you have the capacity to involved at this stage, please let us know by writing to us at info[at]squashcampaign.org. Jobs include keeping track of parliamentary debates and media articles, doing media interviews, lobbying politicians, writing briefings and blog pieces, etc. Most work can be done remotely and in your own time. Other organisations which regularly need help are the Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS) and the Squatters Legal Network (SLN).
8) Blog Pieces: The SQUASH blog covers housing-related issues such as squatting, homelessness, property guardianship, and others. If you have a well-researched piece, or cultural production (eg film, documentary, booklet, paper, etc), relating to squatting and the housing crisis, then please send it on to us, and we will endeavour to publish, promote and publicise.
9) Keep Track of Squatting in the Media: if you spot an article related to squatting in the mainstream media or on alternative news sites, email us at SQUASH with a brief description, and link to, the article. It is important that to keep track of what the media is saying about squatting in order to ascertain the mood regarding further criminalisation, and challenge outright lies.
10) Donate: Donate money and time to active squatting groups – like the Advisory Service for Squatters – and independent homelessness groups – like Streets Kitchen -, instead of donating money to large housing charities like Shelter. Your money will go a lot further doing good, and more appreciated, if it gets to localised groups who have not been professionalised.