mandycooper "I was able to dedicate three weeks full time voluntary work because I don’t pay rent"

There were no journalists loitering outside the door of the freeschool that happened in London last August. The police did come by, asking in not quite so many words, why were there lots of hooded black boys in my home, and if they were anything to do with the arrest they’d just made down the road. They were soon on their way. Ten days of free educative workshops for local teenagers; delivered for free by UN lawyers, government advisors, undergraduates, and community organisers; covering economics, politics, African Liberation movements, how the media works, and how to get a squat. Instead of media coverage, there was curiosity and support from the neighbours. I could use my home as a public space with confidence because I knew the owner of the building which I was squatting would like the project, and that the teenagers coming would respect it as my home. I was able to dedicate three weeks full time voluntary work because I don’t pay rent. I don’t sign on either, never have. I earn a living part time with flexible hours, I work the rest of the time for free on social projects in my community where I have worked and squatted for five years.

Now we are working out how these teenagers can continue to live in their communities whilst continuing their studies, and contributing positively to society. Oh, and being independent young adults despite the fact that their EMA is gone and that they cant find a job. They couldn’t afford rent for miles around even if they sacked in college and found a full time job. The only way they could move out of their parents' and be independent, like other nineteen year olds, is to squat. That way they can go to college, eat healthily, live near their families, work part-time, continue volunteering at the local youth club and enjoy independence, because they won’t need to pay ludicrous amounts of rent, and they won’t risk going to jail for it. Even that will only work if we protect squatters’ rights, and accept the fact that while there are empty buildings and homeless people, squatting makes sense. There are plenty of laws to protect homeowners, neighbours, and property. But how many laws are there to protect people's time? which is how I define privilege, and is the reason that I squat.

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