‘Struggling creative types’ squat in former Barclays bank in Wanstead

Squatters Paul, 23, also known as Homeless Poet, Robin Watts, 25, and Zoe, 36, cleaning at the forme

Squatters Paul, 23, also known as Homeless Poet, Robin Watts, 25, and Zoe, 36, cleaning at the former Barclays bank in High Street, Wanstead. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant

“Friendly” squatters who have moved into a former bank have started cleaning up the “abandoned” building.

The former Barclays bank in High Road, Wanstead, is now occupied by a group of about 20 squatters. P

The former Barclays bank in High Road, Wanstead, is now occupied by a group of about 20 squatters. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant

The group of about 20, which has moved from building-to-building for about five years, took residence at the former Barclays bank in High Street, Wanstead, on Tuesday.

The “struggling creative types” moved to the area from their last squat in Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, after initially meeting at the Occupy protests in London in 2011.

One of the squatters 23-year-old Paul, also known as Homeless Poet, said the new owner Sainsbury’s would be left with a clean building when the group leaves.

“We are a deterrent to people that want to trash it,” he said.


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“We’re not here to disturb anyone – we have even spoken to the neighbours – it’s not the best situation but we’re proactive.

“People have told us it’s brilliant we’re squatting here.”

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Paul said the rising number of homeless people and abandoned buildings could “service each other”.

He added: “We squat to live – we all have individual reasons to squat. We go from building-to-building trying not to get evicted.”

Another squatter Robin Watts, 25, said the group only took over buildings owned by “big multinational companies”.

He added: “We’re not saying squatting is the solution [to the housing crisis] but it’s an immediate housing solution.”

Jack Higgins, 25, also part of the group, said: “If you can’t get a job because you’re trying to find somewhere to live, it’s so hard to get back on your feet.

“There’s no local housing and they’re so tight with benefits in general.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesman said the company is monitoring the situation.

“We have applied for an order for possession from the courts so our bailiffs can evict the squatters and secure the site as quickly as possible,” he added.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “We are aware of it [the squat] but it is being treated as a civil matter.”

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