We are a collective of free thinkers. Our lives have come together but our paths have been different.
We are doing all this on a tiny budget and learning as we are going. Our lives aren’t perfect and our project might not be perfect but we’re building together, putting aside our differences, like we hope everyone can, and creating something beautiful, unique and community based.
We have already cleaned up the building and the surrounding area, risking our own safety in the process to pick up used syringes, which have been around this building since long before we arrived, and disposing of them properly. To continue making this a safe space for the community, we are twice daily checking for and disposing properly of any more that we find.
As far as we know this building has been empty for two years, a situation all too common in Cardiff, when the population of people homeless is growing.
There are plans to build 40 flats here, which would be a massive unneeded disruption in this part of our community. We have already collected over 100 signatures from people living in the local area, in less than two days, opposing these plans and supporting our projects and vision with a passion.
We are planning to continue to keep the land next to us as a community car park, benefitting people in an area which has seen commuters parking outside people’s houses. Parking problems will get worse if the out-of-character development goes ahead. We are staying to stop this happening.
We have been careful to keep noise to a minimum, due to elderly neighbours in our community, and we believe a building site will be a stressful environment for all, but particularly the elderly and those attempting to learn in the nearby school.
One of our projects is to use the space to help to restart ‘Cardiff People’s University’; providing a range of unaccredited, but good quality, courses “by people, for people” and all free of charge.
The majority of us in this building have been through the housing list and realised how little help there is and how stressful it can be. We aim to offer unbiased and wide-ranging advice, information and support for, without judgement, or patronising, anyone in a similar position. This will include courses run by ourselves and information on where anyone struggling financially, or who finds themselves homeless, can get the best help, e.g food, clothes, shelter. We will also have a ‘free-shop’ of donated goods, open for anyone, where everything will be free.
We invite everyone who is positive minded and open-hearted to help us or take advantage of the advice we are offering and the projects we are aiming to make happen.
Everyone needs a little bit of help, even us, and we are extremely grateful to our local neighbours, many of whom have already been kind enough to donate us goods, furniture, gardening equipment and flowers, which we are in the process of planting for a community garden.
The Squat 50 Collective