Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2011

In the Depths of Despair

‘Welcome to the underworld’ said the policemen as he shut the gate to the squat. I had asked to visit one of the derelict buildings which Thames Reach’s outreach teams regularly enter to meet and assist the people hidden away in its dark recesses. A few weeks earlier in a conversation with outreach colleagues I was shocked to hear that they considered the conditions endured by people living in derelict buildings to be more appalling than those facing rough sleepers on the street. They reminded me that we knew of six people who had died in ‘squats’ from different causes including an accident (falling down broken stairs),overdoses and a murder.

This particular squat is vast. The entrance courtyard, blackened by fire and roofless, has strewn around it paraphernalia that presents a squalid pastiche of deprivation in 21st century Britain. There is a scattering of syringes, small blackened bottles requisitioned for the smoking of crack, the desiccated body of a rat, numerous television sets…