Report From Yesterdays Action

We recorded audio of the Austerity and Violence Against Women talk. We also have a number of video recordings of interviews with speakers (below).

So yesterday was a big exciting day for the cafe with lots going on! The front doors were open and we had a packed program of events which drew big numbers; but the cafe aspect of the project also managed to entice lots of passers by who came to share their experiences and stories about the cuts. One trainee nurse came to share his experience of cuts to NHS funding which for him translated as the funding to his course (which was free when he started) being entirely stripped and therefore much more expensive than he had anticipated.

AT 6pm was the Austerity and Violence Against Women which was hosted by Sarah Day a caseworker from Refuge and Rowan an NHS worker. Rowan spoke about how the cuts have effected mental health, citing increased suicide rates as one example, and also presenting an argument that mental health issues should be framed in a similar way to physical disability. Sarah spoke about the serious problem of domestic violence in the U.K. citing the Housing Crisis, Cuts to Legal Aid, and Cuts to the Police as factors of austerity that will only make the situation worse.

Rowan from the NHS on how the cuts affect mental health patients

Rowan NHS from Cutscafe on Vimeo.

Sarah summarises her workshop on austerity and experiences of domestic violence by women

Sarah from Cutscafe on Vimeo.

Open mic at Cuts Cafe Part 1 from Cutscafe on Vimeo.

Open mic at Cuts Cafe Part 2 from Cutscafe on Vimeo.

We Need Banners!!!

Things are going great at the space, and all of our doors are now open and we have a packed program of events; what we need now is to be pretty and visible! The more banners the bet, so we’d love people to bring ready made banners, or paints and materials, or just come and use the materials we have to make nice, anti cuts typed banners that we can hang out of the windows and make ourselves more appealing! 

Report from Today, and News from the Documentation Group

  • It’s been an exciting day today, with between 70 and 100 people passing through, enjoying coffees, conversations and taking part in meetings. We’ve had Occupy London, the Precarious Workers BrigadeRobin Hood Tax Group, Traveller Solidarity Network, Atomic Weapons Eradication & Campaign Against the Arms Trade all putting on workshops/talks and holding their meetings, and here is lots to tell. The documentation group met today, and from tomorrow we will be live-streaming audio in as many meetings as we can manage (more people are needed to help out in the documentation group, whose aim is to produce a lasting history of the space) and hopefully doing some video too (including a series of fag break interviews, five minute interviews with speakers that will fit into your fag break at work or home).

So here is a blow by blow rundown of happenings today:

  • We woke up super early and went hard at it doing loads throughout the space from painting the first floor, to setting up the cafe space, cleaning and tidying everywhere, trying (and failing to fix water), installing a welcome desk, and cleaning up all of the mess involved in building and setting up the space. Everyone worked super hard, and by the end of the session things were looking beautiful.
  • From around midday there was a steady flow of people coming to help out in the space, lending a hand with cleaning and building, and enjoying our wide range of hot drinks and skipped food.
  • At around four, a rush of people from Occupy London entered the space, holding a meeting discussing what they were going to do for Occupy’s global day of noise (a day of action called by the international occupy movement) and what the group could do for this and beyond. It was a well attended meeting of between 20 and 30 people and members of the group were most helpful in setting up a projector screen and other shiny new things.
  • Next, came The Traveller Solidarity Network and The Robin Hood Tax Campaign who held simultaneous meetings (obviously in different rooms). The Traveller Solidarity Network ‘s workshop covered a wide range of interesting things.  It began with an introduction for people new to the Traveller Solidarity movement (including an explanation of the different kinds of Travellers and Sites on which they live, the problems and racism faced by travelling communities, recent evictions of travelling communities, and the effects of the new localism bill) and the sharing of ideas on how to support local Traveller Sites. Following this, there was a breakout into smaller groups and an invitation to all attendees to their  upcoming action against the Homes and communities agency on the anniversary of the Dale Farm eviction.
  • The Robin Hood Tax Campaign Group gave an introduction to what the campaign is about and explaining what they see as sticky situation they find themselves in- from politicians seeing them as “bonkers” to much of the left viewing them as not radical enough. They then went on to talking about what the tax means and how it would work- essentially taking tax from financial transactions of super rich corporations and investing the money made in progressive projects including anti climate change work. You can see more information about the group on their website, and to get involved email holly@robinhoodtax.org.uk.
  • After this, was a workshop from Atomic Weapons Eradication and CAAT who put forward arguments as to why (particularly during the economic crisis) we don’t need trident, and why it should be discontinued. The talk then led into a discussion from everyone in the meeting ranging from the successful campaign on Scotland’s River Clyde, to discussion on how to take action locally.
  •  The Precarious Workers Brigade then held one of their monthly drop in sessions to share experiences of precarious work, housing, and life in London and to prepare for the upcoming TUC demo on the 20th October which they inform us may well be sporting the always exciting “carrot block”.
  • We finished off with an open general meeting at 9pm where a number of new people came into the space to discuss and decide what the Space should be doing over the next couple of days.  All the information about meetings, what can be done, how to get involved, and fun stuff to do will be up and available from the welcome Desk as of tomorrow- See you there!!!

For Photos of today see our Twitter!!!!!

The Doors Are Open and the Events Begin at 5pm

After some minor delays working tirelessly to prepare the space, we are pleased to announce that we are finally ready to open. Events start from 5pm tonight and people are welcome before that to come hang out, see the space, and generally get things moving.

Events happening today…

5pm-6pm– Occupy: Global Noise and Beyond
Occupy will be presenting the numerous activities planned for the autumn. Come along to find out how to take part and to have your say on what you think our next steps should be.

6pm-7pm– Robin Hood Tax presents:
Dispelling the myths of the financial transaction tax and what it could mean for the UK.

6pm-7pm– Traveller Solidarity Network
An introduction to the Fight for Sites campaign, and what the fight for Traveller’s rights has to do with cuts, housing and the Tories.

7-8.30pm – ACTION Atomic Weapons Eradication and Campaign Against Arms Trade

Update on the Space:

The space has electricity and step free access, and we aim to have most of our events on the ground floor, although because of high demand from groups to use the space we will be using other floors. Please click here for our “access as priority” policy – we ask those coming to Cuts Cafe to let us know in advance of their access requirements so we can set-up events accordingly.

We have a kitchen in the basement and some food, tea, and coffee on the ground floor. Sadly, we do not yet have full running water, but there is a disabled toilet on the ground floor, and a bucket flush toilet system in the basement for able bodied people. We are working on a kids/crèche space, but we really need input and advice about the best way to manage this. Please come today and input into the decision making process about the space!

See you tonight!

The Ramp is Built, The Doors are Open, Systems are Go! (Nearly)

It’s been a busy 24 hours at the cuts cafe, people worked tirelessly yesterday to build a wheelchair access ramp which is now fitted at the side entrance of the building (see picture below)  and means that people can enter onto the ground floor using a wheelchair. We bought a wheelchair accessible toilet today, which will arrive before events begin tomorrow evening and are hard at work cleaning, tidying and decorating and hope to open tonight for a social and film showing. 

We are also starting to think about opening the kids space and crèche, and where is the best place to put it; we have  a number of the cuts cafe team who have CRB checks and who are willing to help facilitate this, but we can only make a crèche a reality with help and input from parents, careers, and people who are experienced in working with children. 

Tonight, we are having a building a decorating night, and we would really like people to come down to the space to paint, decorate, and imagine the space as they would like it to be. We need your input to make cuts cafe everything that it can be!

Please please come  from 4pm today and help out, have fun and chat about the things we want to see… We Come from the Future to Liberate the Present, Open the Doors, Let EVERYONE in!

An open letter from the spaces crew

This is an open letter to everyone, who has been excited, disappointed, confused, concerned, etc about what is happening with the physical space that will become the Cuts Cafe. My name is Peter, I am a member of the space team who have been working day and night for the past two weeks in order to try and find a building that meets the criteria of size, accessibility, location, and security. In the last fourteen days we have scouted around forty buildings in areas such as Elephant and Castle, The City of London, Holborn, and Mayfair; opened and internally expected around 10, and fully squatted and prepared 2; most of us have slept less than 4 hours in every 24.

Last Thursday, we found and secured an absolutely ideal location in Elephant and Castle; a three story Library on Borough Road which had been abandoned by South bank University for around 9 months. The building met all of our needs, and most importantly of all was completely wheelchair accessible. Sadly, the forces of the state, and the management of the university would not allow us to use this building, and swiftly and violently evicted us from the premise. 

Following this, we in the spaces team spent day after long day scouting buildings to find the perfect place, and night after long night opening and exploring buildings to see if we could make them work. It has been a steep learning curve for many of us; as an able bodied person, I had never realized how horribly in accessible so many central London buildings are.

On Sunday night, after intense sleep deprivation, failure after failure to find the perfect space, and a high degree of burnout we decided to open up 1 Stamford Street near Blackfriars. We  chose this building, as it is large and spacious, well located, clean and welcoming and also because it was one of the last places we could realistically open before we all collapsed of exhaustion. The doors have been heavily barricaded by the owner and access for all of us has been difficult, we have finally sorted this and today have been building a ramp to make the place accessible for wheelchair users.

We at the spaces crew, have worked as hard as we can to find and identify a space and want more than anything for us to be able to open the doors and get things rolling but we also feel that it is unfair and hypocritical to open a space to the public that a wheelchair can not get into. To this ends, the wheelchair ramp will be finished by the morning and from then we welcome everyone to come and help us fix up the space to be the future we want to see.

We’re sorry, really sorry for the delay in opening and i personally apologize to those who had to cancel workshops because of our failings, but I hope people understand the work that has gone into everything we’ve had to do, it’s been a mission, but a mission that has been worth it.  

Successful Public Meeting, as Excitement grows for Cuts Cafe

The meeting was live streamed, you can see the full unedited video here  (start at 19:25 to miss out a co-facilitator doing nothing for 20 minutes).

October 1st saw the first public meeting of cuts cafe, to discuss, explore and explain the project in more detail and to drum up excitement about things to come. A packed and diverse room of people from a wide range of groups and campaigns were in attendance, and at its height the meeting had more than one hundred participants.

There were a number of speakers including those from Uk Uncut, and the Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC) groups who explained to the audience specifically what they were doing and also how this might tie into the cuts cafe. After that, a speaker from the Cuts Cafe group spoke to a now very excited audience about the variety of events the Cafe will be holding as well as the politics and ideas behind the space.

Following this, participants to the meeting were asked to discuss with others around them why they had decided to come, what they wanted from the space, and how the cuts effected them. This went on for around five minutes and the range of subjects and reasons was astounding. In the question and answer session that followed, as well as in people expressing their desires for what should happen in the space, we found a huge multitude of new an exciting ideas, that will greatly aid and benefit the space when it comes to opening day.

After this section of the meeting was finished members of the Cuts Cafe group, who represented different working groups, took it in turns to explain what the different working groups were, what they have done so far, and how new participants can get involved. Amongst the requests for help were the need for people with skills in running kitchens and childcare, people with video or writing skills, and people who can help give out flyers or put up posters in their community center, workplace etc. As the meeting finished, participants were invited to come and speak to representatives of different working groups and to get involved.

The whole meeting was hugely exciting, invigorating, and inspiring; and the Cuts Cafe group would like to thank everyone who came to the meeting and for all your new ideas, contributions and offers of help; we hope that these continue to come in as the opening day gets nearer and beyond.

Guest Blog on Squatting by a London Anarchist and Squatter

The housing crisis is a war- Squatting is our (not so) secret weapon

On every street, down every alleyway, and in every housing estate in London you will be hard pushed not to notice a strange and almost haunting phenomenon. This city is plagued with it, ravaged by it, consumed entirely in some cases by its slow rot and crumbling brick; the empty houses, offices, and factories that pierce endless soulless rows of chain stores and corporate commercial ventures. Even shiny central London’s prestigious Oxford Street sports two such bastions of emptiness; whilst elephant and castles monolithic heygate estate is a ghost town of over three thousand empty homes. Yet crying out against the cold, in the darkened doorways and silent stairwells of abandoned buildings, the homeless are freezing to death.

In the last year alone, there was between a fourteen and seventeen percent rise in the number of homeless people in England and Wales, with 48,510 households being classified as homeless in 2011[1]. At the same time there are nearly a million empty or abandoned homes in the U.K, 300 thousand of which are long term empty[2]. We are in a state of war. On one side we have ordinary people savaged by cuts to housing benefits, 1.7 million people long social housing waiting lists[3], mass unemployment, and now new laws against squatting; and on the other we have politicians, land lords, and developers fighting tooth and nail to keep house and land market prices high.  The government has no centralised targets for the number of houses needed, and puts no guidelines on what this housing should be, or how much it should cost; despite the crisis house prices in London continue to rise[4]. The market therefore is rife with developers and speculators who are happy to see their shiny centres of yuppiedom sit empty, and callously wait till their over inflated rents can be met.

This year, I lived in an abandoned property in Dalston situated behind Kingsland station. The eight bedrooms and two bathrooms that in the past had made a micro bedsit empire for its owner (grossing him nearly £1000 a week) had been empty for more than a year and had been left to rot (when we got in, windows had been left open to allow for damp, wind and rain, one floor was entirely flooded, and many pipes and radiators were left damaged or leaking). On speaking to local residents as to why an enterprise which would have grossed its owner around £40,000 per year would be left completely empty (no dole scum such as myself could afford to lose that much money a year) we uncovered some sickening information about our slum lord millionaire. The slum lord, one Isah Gluck was a real estate and property villain, who heavily disguised himself behind a number of shell companies, fake development agencies, and other tax dodging guises; his main aim for our building, to let it fall down. The really interesting bit though is why. It turns out Mr Gluck had dreams of moving up the ladder from slum lord to respectable proprietor of the white middle class dream- the swanky condo in an edgy part of town, next to the coffee shop selling things most people can’t spell let alone afford, and the rent that starts in quad figures a month. Standing in his way however was planning permission, and the only way out of this was to let the building simply crumble something he could only do so long as none lived there. He, unlike the rest of us, could afford comfortably to lose 40 grand a year safe in the knowledge that in a few years time that yuppie palace would be well in vogue and worth millions.

 It’s slum lord filth like Gluck who perpetuate the housing crisis, keeping all of us on the streets, in temporary accommodation, and hostels so that they might make a fat buck out of our poverty: there greed is our misery- we must go on the attack, and take what they won’t give us. Undoubtedly (as in the case of Gluck) they will fight us, (like some spoilt child deciding it wants its long forgotten, damaged toy, the very second a new child starts playing with it) they may evict us, but they will never destroy us-  we have nothing to lose but our chains.

There is a simple fact greater than the situation we find ourselves in, and the line those in control of property have drawn in the sand against us, is a fundamental fact- regardless of the housing crisis, regardless of situation, and regardless of government- rent is theft, we must all join the rent strike. How is it that the rich, the landed, the powerful, have all convinced us it is just and right to pay them for the so called privilege of a roof over our heads; that we should drag our sorry selves out of bed five days a week, twelve hours a day, to enter into their work money system, break our backs and still barely, just barely, afford the cost they put on our right to shelter.

 A storm is brewing inside the heart of this housing crisis (in the same way that it exploded in the Thatcher years) soon many thousands of us will be faced with a choice- the street or the squat. In this writer’s opinion, it is awareness of this coming storm that has pushed the hegemonic serpent of privilege (sometimes called the conservative government) to act against squatting. The rich know that if ordinary people are left dying on the street they are powerless, marginalised, and unlikely to form resistance; but if they are allowed to re-expropriate the properties landlords have stolen from them they will grow in strength and number, imagining alternatives to the ownership of property and taking for the common good that which the rich have kept for themselves- your landlord fears you, always remember that.

In response to the attacks on our right to shelter, we must arm ourselves, where they cut our benefits, we must cut their sources of income through rent strike, when they fire us from jobs, we should sack them as our landlords and use our rent for home improvement, and when they evict us from our homes we must squat theirs- as workers, unemployed, students and all others we have the keys to every door they claim to possess- we just have to grasp the confidence to use them. The answers to this housing crisis will not come from governments, policy makers, or Balfour fucking Beatty- this crisis to them is only another money making opportunity, another opportunity to keep us down; for us this crisis is our lives- what we do now will make the future.  This crisis of housing will only end when each and every one of us fights back until every mouth can honestly speak the words “everyone and no one owns this house”;  one avenue along the road to this reality is to squat that which they would have us pay for. It is time we woke up to the evils of property; it is time we squatted the world.

Peter Bonanno


[2] Report by the Charity Empty Homes

[3] From Shelter article “The Housing Crisis” http://england.shelter.org.uk/campaigns/why_we_campaign/the_housing_crisis#_edn2 Stats taken from Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix Data 2010, Communities and Local Government, 2010

Stop G8 Call for Anti Capitalist Mobilisation for October 20th

#Oct20. Cut the crap. The problem is Capitalism.

CALL OUT: for a radical anti-capitalist presence on October 20th.

The TUC (Trades Union Congress) is organising a mass demonstration in London
against spending cuts and austerity. Up to a million people may take to
the streets.

We know an afternoon spent marching through the streets of London will not
force the Government to back down. This Government – like any government
– has no answers, or solutions. We need to face the real enemy:
capitalism.

Capitalism exploits and oppresses the many, for the interests of the few.
It is the source of countless hardships. It is the driver for climate
change, as natural resources are plundered for profit. Capitalism dictates
poverty and austerity.

Over the past 100 years, workers the world over have struggled against
capitalism, winning – with greater or lesser degrees of success – a range
of “concessions”. In the UK and Europe, for example, workers and the unemployed have won
improved wages and working conditions, pensions and the welfare state. Now
the elites are trying to claw back these hard-won gains, using the excuse
of the financial crisis they caused. But people are resisting: in work
places, within communities, on the streets.

The crisis of Capitalism is global. While we are divided and alienated by
borders, capitalism moves freely, inflicting its misery world-wide. People
across the continents of Africa, Asia, and South America have long lived at
the coal face of this destructive system. Cuts and privatisations are
imposed upon workers in the Global South to service crippling
international debt repayments mis-sold as “poverty alleviation”. Our
resistance to capitalism must also be global, linking up strikes, revolts,
and solidarity across the world.

The time to join this resistance is now. Hence the call out for a radical
presence on the streets of London 20th October. To organise for the day,
there will be open meetings held from around 5 October on at the CUTS
CAFE.
For further info contact:
stopg8@riseup.net.

WE ARE MANY, THEY ARE FEW, AND WE ARE EVERYWHERE.

signed:

StopG8 – StopG8 formed to prepare a massive anti-capitalist response to
the G8 summit being hosted in the Uk in 2013 and help spawn a movement. We
hope you’ll join us, starting October 20th.

Smash EDO – is a direct action campaign aimed at closing down the EDO arms
factory in Brighton – http://www.smashedo.org.uk

Fitwatch

ALARM — All London Anarchist Revolutionary Mob

Frack Off