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From: Jo Makepeace (webmaster@schnews.org.uk)
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 20:05:23 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: SchNEWS 666, Friday 13th February 2009

Spike Surplus (Camberwell, London) - eviction and appeal


Up to 80 years ago, each homeless person was entitled by law to a warm bed and an evening meal...in one of the dreaded workhouses. Each workhouse had a separate building, known as a casual ward or "Spike". There you could get a bath, grub and a bed for the night.

In 1998, some people looking for a home and a community centre didn't wait for the state to sort them out and did it themselves. They took over an old burnt out, fly-tipped building in Peckham that in 1850 had been the Camberwell Resettlement Unit (or Spike).

They planted a garden and offered courses on permaculture. They put in a recording studio, rehearsal hall and video making facilities. They built a dojo for martial arts and yoga. Once a week there was a Well-being clinic that offered free complementary therapies.

The project had been used by thousands of people and was, according their website, "poised to reach out to an even wider community, particularly disaffected youth. Peckham is a notoriously deprived area, with gun crime and gang membership rife." One ex-caretaker told SchNEWS, "this was always a supportive environment, never any trouble."

But after ten years Southwark Council, despite offers of money and proposals for a community solution, decided to close the place down. At around 7am on Wednesday (12), 20 bailiffs, cops, PCSO's and "community wardens" turned up and kicked everyone out.

Court bailiffs had promised at least two weeks notice would be given to allow the project's equipment to be moved out, but no notice was given and people had to charm their way back in during the day to reclaim their vehicles and possessions. One caretaker told SchNEWS, "We had a cup of tea with one of the security guards and he told me how bad he felt, knowing that the building hadn't been sold and how he was just costing the council money for no reason..." Nice move Southwark!

The Spike has launched an appeal for help finding a new location for the project, or failing that, for individual elements of the project to continue. The Music Studio, Well-Being Space &aqmp; Community Garden all need re-housing to continue their work. If you can assist contact info@spikesurplus.org or telephone 020 7252 9733

see the Save Spike documentary at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXLunawGrI8

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