Soup kitchen for homeless people forcibly dismantled in London

By staff writers
December 31, 2014

In a gesture of seasonal ill-will, a group of social justice activists have been prevented from running a soup kitchen for homeless people in Westminster.

The squatting group 'Love Activists' were forcibly ousted from their new location by the police on the evening of Tuesday 30th December, having previously been evicted from an empty listed Victorian building in the UK capital.

The group planned on using the occupied building's large kitchen facilities to cook a Christmas lunch for homeless people in the area, also providing then with donated clothing.

But on Christmas Eve they were served an eviction notice and arrested after staging a 10-hour protest on the building’s roof. The Christmas lunch was served cold on the pavement outside the former bank premises.

In an article for the Guardian, Clare Pauling, one of the Love Activists, declares: "There are 1.5 million empty commercial and residential buildings in the UK and 110,000 homeless people – that's about 10 empty buildings per homeless person which is ridiculous.

"I have been squatting for a short time but in the last month alone we have been moved on about five times. Before that I was sofa surfing. It is a myth that all squatters just trash the places they move to and then walk away. We look after the places we have been living in and repair broken pipes etc, so that they are in a better state when we leave than when we arrived. I would like to see a law passed where there is an obligation on owners of properties left vacant for a long time to allow homeless people to temporarily move in."

Police officers and council staff forcibly removed the activists from the area and forced them to dismantle their soup kitchen on Tuesday, in time for New Year celebrations in the capital.

This morning they temporarily re-established their presence outside the National Portrait gallery.

Around 2,400 people across the nation are estimated to be sleeping rough each night, according to housing charity Shelter. This represents a 37 per cent increase since 2010, when the current coalition government came to power.

* Article by Clare Pauling: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/26/love-activists-empt...

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