A man who used to live in a car park for years before he started squatting in an abandoned building in London claims it’s saved him from a life of drugs on the streets.
Luke, a young squatter, whose age and location remain undisclosed, shares his story on The Squatter Next Door, which airs on 5Star tonight at 9pm.
He lives in an abandoned London office with ten other squatters that offers plenty of space. Squatting is a criminal offence in the UK, but Luke and fellow squatter Julian, show no interest in leaving their haunt anytime soon.
‘It’s criminal that places like this could just be scattered around London, empty,’ he says. ‘I didn’t break in an enter point that was unsecured. I haven’t broken any laws.’
Storm Huntley meets Luke, a London squatter and visits his haunts as part of a new 5STAR series airing tonight at 9pm
Luke tells Storm that squatting is nicer than living on the streets, because he gets much more personal space
Julian entered the building first, making his home in a disused office block over nine floors. He’s been living on free electricity and water for the last four months.
Luke took shelter in one of the building’s corner rooms and created a living space for himself using some of the office’s supplies, such as chairs and desks.
The young man sleeps on several chairs he pushed together, and a duvet – and proudly dubs them the most ‘comfortable chairs in the building.’
‘This is massive personal space,’ says Luke, gesturing at the room he occupies in the building in tonight’s show. ‘There’s no drugs allowed here, which is always a great plus.’
Before he started squatting, Luke lived on the streets. He became homeless at 17 and could not receive help from his council.
With associations being unable to help, he resorted to living with several other homeless people in an urine-soaked car park.
Storm (right) also met with squatter Julian (left), who made his home in a disused office building in London. He shares the nine floors with ten other squatters and says it won’t cost the tax payer a thing
Luke reveals other homeless people would continuously ask him for change, cigarettes or drugs. Others would exchange goods.
‘It#s people with hidden agendas trying to use you for their own advances,’ explains Luke, adding that he had other homeless men trying to steal from him.
The young man added that living on the street subjected him to drug use and that banned substances were a very easy thing to get addicted to as a homeless person.
‘The homeless world, the drug world is not too far behind,’ he explains. ‘Because you’re in such a severe situation, you collapse. You want to feel something else.’
‘You feel like you’re rubbish, so you take ecstasy, boom, your endorphins, you feel happy again.’
Luke used to be homeless and lived in an urine-soaked car park for months. He says the world of the homeless and the world of drugs were very close to one another
Storm Huntley meets young squatter Luke (above) who claims squatting saved his life from the world of drugs on the streets in tonight’s ‘Squatters next door,’ on 5Star
Luke explains the frustration of living on the streets led to him trying to take his own life, but he bounced back when squatting with Julian.
He also credits squatting for giving him the opportunity to focus on his life-guard course, which he passed, and says he wants to go to another country to work and learn the language.
Julian, however, shows no interest in leaving the building, and looks the other way when asked where he gets the electricity and water supplies for his squat.
Along with the other squatters, Julian uses heaters along with the running water in the building – but he claims the tax payer won’t have to pay a thing and that the companies can afford to pay for it instead.
Julian says it is a crime that large buildings are left empty in London while 450 homeless people die on the streets each winter
Luke and Julian live with nine other squatters in an abandoned office building in London. The building is nine floors high. Squatting became a criminal offense in 2012
‘We may not be paying for electric, we may not be paying for the water, what would you rather have us do? Die of thirst or freeze to death?’ he says. ‘We’re human beings. If I had the money, we’d pay, but we don’t have the money, so what can I say?’
For landlords, squatting is a very different story, and can set them back thousands of pounds.
One man who let squatters use an empty building of his ended up having to pay £10,000 in legal proceedings and repairs.
He claimed to have an initial agreement in place with six squatters, but ended up evicting twenty.
The squatters next door airs tonight on 5Star ar 9pm