A free Christmas Day meal for the homeless was served yesterday within a new squat opened up on the site of the former Wonder Inn, in Shude Hill, Manchester. Immediately, Greater Manchester Housing Action (GMHA) released a statement supporting the action and calling on others to "applaud the action today as a necessary and beautiful demonstration of solidarity..."
The full statement reads...
"Today a coalition of the homeless, activists and artists threw open the doors of the former Wonder Inn, now squatted, to welcome the homeless of Manchester to a free Christmas meal. Greater Manchester Housing Action applaud this direct action, stand in solidarity with those behind it and call for a more imaginative and humane response to homelessness from our city leaders.
"Over the last three years we have seen the roll out of Universal Credit, cuts to the benefits system and a total lack of priority placed on providing and building the homes many need. Whether in Westminster or Manchester Town Hall, a political elite have consistently put the needs of the rich - developers, landlords, investors - over those of ordinary people. Homelessness is the direct result of these policy choices, the outcome of a systemic failure in the way we 'do' housing in this country.
"In the face of this crisis, people have taken things into their own hands and started squatting empty commercial properties. A Freedom of Information request submitted by GMHA revealed that there have been over 850 incidents of the police logging or visiting squats since April 2014*. These squats have all been attempts to survive in a cruel system, a means of securing the most basic necessity and human right - a roof over one's head. But squatting moves beyond just an act of a survival, it lays bare the inequalities and injustices in our society and is a call for transformative change.
"So while today many of us will be experiencing warmth in a house with family, friends and loved ones, think of the ongoing situation for hundreds who are out there on our streets, enduring crisis after crisis and receiving little meaningful help from local and national government.
"We hope you will applaud the action today as a necessary and beautiful demonstration of solidarity. Those behind it, through their organisation and love, represent a triumph of the human spirit. Let us take inspiration from them and continue to push for a city - and a world - that is run for people, not profit..."
*For further details see previous Salford Star article: Squatting Explosion In Greater Manchester – click here
See also previous related Salford Star article: Homeless Squat Opens Up Facing Manchester Town Hall - click here