Homeless people squat Brighton night shelter to prevent deaths on the streets

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sat Feb 1 20:01:32 GMT 2020

Homeless people in Brighton take direct action to prevent deaths on the streets


A squatted night shelter in Brighton is housing 
homeless people. The Canary visited the squat and 
spoke to residents about the project.

Solidarity with rough sleepers

Back in December 2019, people in Brighton called 
an emergency meeting to discuss how to act in 
solidarity with those facing life on the streets. 
The initiative was taken by Brighton’s 
AF anti-fascist alliance and other grassroots groups.

Soon, activists took control of an empty Kodak 
shop on Brighton’s London Road and began using it 
to house rough sleepers. This week, the group 
unused building: the old Poundstretcher building on London Road.
The Canary

The group named itself the 
<https://www.facebook.com/KodakCollective/>DIY Kodak Collective.

<https://www.thecanary.co/author/frea/>Fréa Lockley , 5th October 2019

‘People are dying’

Pinky, a homeless person who is part of the 
squatting crew, told The Canary why the project was needed:

people died on the street in Brighton last year, 
and there are 
empty commercial buildings in the city.

We knew that this winter was going to be even more brutal than last year.

Figures released in 2018 showed that 
least 20 rough sleepers had died in Brighton in 
the past year, out of a 
of at least 449 deaths across the UK.

[Brighton and Hove] Council has only opened the 
[Severe Weather Emergency Protocol] shelter a handful of times this winter.

‘A safe space’

Benny, a regular user of the squatted shelter, 
explained why people often don’t want to use the SWEP:

The SWEP has been opened a handful of nights 
because of the severe weather. You get a little 
something to eat and then get kicked out by 7am. It’s depressing.

Here you can sleep as long as you want, and it’s a safe space.

Vicci, another member of the crew, said that it’s 
not safe for immigrants without papers to go to 
the SWEP, as the council are working with the Border Agency.

The Canary contacted Brighton and Hove Council 
for a response. We had received no reply by the time of publication.

‘Housed and unhoused people working together’

“The strength of the project is that housed and 
unhoused people are working together,” said 
Vicci. And according to Pinky, “activist networks 
and the street community have merged to form the Kodak collective”.

The shelter is staffed by a crew made up of both 
rough sleepers and housed people, who ensure that 
the shelter remains a safe and welcoming place. 
The squats provide a sociable community space in 
the daytime and a warm place to sleep at night. 
They are also being used as a place to distribute 
essentials like food and bedding.

The collective makes decisions about the project 
by consensus, and the collective members try to 
avoid hierarchies emerging between the housed and 
unhoused people. According to Pinky, “it wasn’t 
like anyone was telling each other what to do”.


The collective is holding regular meetings, and 
has set up a ‘Mediation and Care Crew’ to solve 
any disputes as well as a media group and legal team.

In the future, the collective wants to set up a 
queer-feminist space and a youth space too.

Vicci said that several rough sleepers who came 
to the night shelter have since been housed after 
the collective helped them to put their case to the council.

Meanwhile, residents at the shelter are selling 
<https://www.patreon.com/dopemag>Dope Magazine – 
quarterly publication by anarchist publisher 
<http://dogsection.org/dope/>Dog Section Press. 
Copies of Dope Magazine are distributed 
<https://www.patreon.com/dopemag>free to homeless people for them to sell.

Creating ‘an open and welcoming space’

Benny told The Canary:

Sometimes I don’t feel in the space to go to the 
 but I know they are being held with the 
best interests of the people here in mind.

Homeless people can perfectly easily get into 
buildings [and squat them] – but with the support 
of the collective we work together to make them liveable.

The way this space is run is so fantastic – a 
space that’s looked after by a team of 
trustworthy people. If I’m unwell and have to 
leave for a few days, I can come back and the 
space is still open and welcoming.

It’s so important, especially if you are unwell and depressed.

According to Matty, another resident and crew member:

Here you can invite a friend in and they’re also 
welcome, whereas in a hostel everyone who is not a resident is banned

Callout for funds

The DIY Kodak Collective is a good model that 
could be replicated across the UK. “People should 
start similar projects where they live,” said 
Pinky. “There’s one in Manchester, the 
<https://www.facebook.com/ManchesterWinterShelter/>Manchester Winter Shelter.”

The squats have all received papers informing the 
residents of eviction proceedings. But the 
collective is 
for donations to keep going:

we need to raise funds
 These funds will go 
towards transport for the furniture and other 
donations at the site, towards securing the next 
space and making it safe and habitable, towards 
stocking it with the necessary resources to 
continue to provide the services that the Kodak 
shelter provides, and towards helping find a long 
term housing solution for the residents of the 
shelter. Please give what you can, thank you.

Featured image via 
Kodak Collective (with permission)

Get involved

Tom Anderson is part of the 
<http://shoalcollective.org/>Shoal Collective, a 
cooperative producing writing for social justice 
and a world beyond capitalism. Twitter: 
    * Check out DIY Kodak Collective 
<https://www.facebook.com/KodakCollective/>on Facebook.
a donation to DIY Kodak Collective.
    * Read about 
<https://www.facebook.com/ManchesterWinterShelter/>Manchester Winter Shelter.

And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, 
he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and 
gave to them. 
<http://biblehub.com/luke/24-31.htm>31 And their 
eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he 
vanished out of their sight.  http://biblehub.com/kjv/luke/24.htm

You can donate to support Tony's work here http://www.bilderberg.org/bcfm.htm
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