CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Kentish Town needs space for its community

15 June, 2017

The long-empty carpet shop which became the Kentish Town Solidarity Space

• A FEW short weeks ago we decided to open up a long-empty former carpet shop in Kentish Town as a solidarity space to help the homeless, and act as a social centre for the wider community to use.

In the month or so since we opened the doors, hundreds of residents have passed through. Some have come only to talk, to meet other people, to share ideas, worries and dreams. Some have come because of physical need, because they lack the resources to buy clothing or household goods.

We have housed and continue to house the homeless, and some of those who have stayed with us have found the strength to begin rebuilding their lives. We have taken in refugees and fellow squatters who have been forced to close down their own community projects because of the will of property developers.

We have helped immigrants to access language and maths tuition. Meals have been cooked here to be distributed to people who need them.

In Kentish Town there is little space for residents to meet, to exchange ideas, to get to know each other and build lasting networks. Sports Direct, owners of the building we occupied in order to carry forward this project, would now like to evict us. Last week we were taken to court and lost.

The building’s owners plan to demolish the existing structure and build a block of eight flats in its place. But flats for who? There is a clear need for the existence of places like the Kentish Town Solidarity Space.

We would like to continue to do what we are doing. We would like to continue to work closely with residents of Kentish Town to improve this neighbourhood for everyone.

We would like to continue to help, in whatever small way, those who have found themselves without a roof over their heads. We would like to continue to promote creativity, unity, and solidarity, but this is difficult without a base from which to operate.

So we call on Camden Council, on businesses, on individuals, to help us. We feel it is only fair the community is given something to replace what they stand to lose when we are evicted.

MARK SMITH
Camden Homeless Solidarity, NW1

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