Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Working Community

The Occupied Times, November 16 2011

As OccupyLSX enters it’s fourth week, the Finsbury Square camp has become a well established community, complete with a hotel, bike workshop and a group set up to help the homeless.

Conor Hohan, who has been camping at Finsbury Square said the occupation is “now in the process of refining” its space.

Conor is part of the housing team, and has implemented a system to make sure the camp utilizes as much space as possible and to accommodate new occupiers.

They have a peg system where pegs on a tent represent if there is room in a tent, and if it is male or females currently occupying it. For safety reasons, Conor said they try and keep tents to either male or female.

The camp also had set up a “hotel”- the only free hotel in London – which holds six people so if someone arrives late they can be housed in the hotels, then moved into a tent the next day.

The camp was currently at peak capacity and they were trying to come up with more ways to increase capacity, like putting up larger tents in place of smaller two person ones.

Even if people are sharing spaces with relative strangers in the camp they endeavour to make people feel comfortable.

“Even if people don’t own the tent they are staying in they feel comfortable and safe in it.” he said.

Also at the camp is Ace’s Bikes, a bike workshop set up by occupier Ace MacCloud who has been homeless for the last 25 years.

He spends his days fixing the bikes of the campers and also those not in the movement, at no charge.

He said it keeps his mind occupied, and he bikes between the two camps to fix St Paul’s occupier’s bikes.

He is also part of an OccupyLSX homeless working group.

He said this group is about “trying to get people back in hostels or a place like this.

“We tell them to go to the housing tent, see if they have a spare tent, give them something to eat and then try to help them out. We want them to stick around and help them out if they have a bike needing fixing.”