Squattastic is a loose network of squatters and squat-supporters that was started in London in December 2010 out of the need for an organised response to the Tory government's announcements of an upcoming revision of the squatting laws, flanked by an ongoing campaign to defame squatting on the mainstream media.
The first gathering was called for without any particular plan or blueprint about what would come out of it, and in fact all the subsequent meetings, held once a month, have been mainly a valuable space for people to network and start projects from, without Squattastic itself taking any more defined structure or function. Projects that gathered participants and support through Squattastic - some ongoing, some defunct - were the Really Free School, the occupations around Well St in Hackney, and the Homerton Grove Adventure Playground.
As the smear campaigns reached their peak and the government faces a major and ongoing popular opposition on most of its proposed policies, squatting has been pulled out of the drawer again to divert attention from far more important political issues, and the preliminary steps to an actual change in the law about squatting are being undertaken. Many participants in Squattastic recognised the need to take the initiative and to create working groups that could focus on specific topics whilst maintaining smaller and more efficient structures. At the same time, Squattastic gatherings will carry on taking place on a monthly basis as a forum and a networking space, and to facilitate the collaboration and coordination of the working groups.
So far the working groups are a Media Group, keeping contacts to the mainstream, a Legal and Research Group, looking into the technicalities of the criminalisation of squatting and gathering facts and figures about it, a Website Group, building and upkeeping a website (which is not live yet) to create an accessible platform of communication to the general public, and a Parliament Group, organising contacts to potentially supportive MPs and briefing them on all the problems that the criminalisation of squatting would bring about. As a whole, this collective effort to stop the ban on squatting has called itself SQUASH (Squatters' Action for Secure Homes), a name that had already been used by a successful campaign in the early 1990s, the last time that squatting faced an attempt of criminalisation.
There is still a lot of work to be done, so everyone is invited to join SQUASH and help save what for many of us is a vital resource!