Monday, 20 April 2009


Voxsquatpop asks ordinary people - what they think of squatting, who they think squats, would they squat, if the financial crisis will encourage more squatting, and if squatting needs a better word to describe it.

Freelance writer & editor, based in north London

Squatting as a concept intrigues me. I wish I had the balls and resourcefulness to create a home from a neglected, broken space. It takes a lot of imagination and stamina -- hearing about the Temporary School of Thought in the media not long ago was fantastic -- there was a group of people who not only took on a place and made it a home, but pooled their collective talents and opened up their dwelling to share and learn with other people. It was the first positive news story I'd heard about squatting ever!

Opportunists of all sorts I think -- whether fluffy or junkie. It's not a mainstream choice. I suspect the stereotype of activist, artist, those trying not to be found and those with alternative lifestyles is still pretty true.

No, I don't think I would. The opportunity has never presented itself to me and I wouldn't go looking for it -- if it did, and the right kind of people were around me -- experienced, creative, handy squatters who can fix toilets and know their rights... it might be appealing, inspiring even. But I like my domestic space, to know that it's mine and that I'm secure in it. I wouldn't like the possibility that I might get evicted hanging over my head. Also, I have cats. Squatting is probably not ideal for cats.

I don't think the crisis will encourage squatting, although clearly it's an option for the very desperate, if they've lost their home. But I don't think it's that straightforward to squat. I think it takes either a lot of thought, planning and energy. Unless it's a totally opportunist thing or simply finding somewhere to sleep or indulge a habit. I don't think squatting will ever be a mainstream choice. Most people don't have the imagination or the stomach for hard work.

I like the notion that 'fluffy' squatters reclaim unloved spaces and make them homes. Squatting is a terrible word, synonymous with junkie squats. It also suggests temporariness, you literally can't squat for long. And I guess it generally isn't a long-term solution, but I would like to hear a more positive phrase to describe what ingenious and diligent 'fluffy' squatters do.