Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Health Centre Squat Has Saved Our Lives'

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'Health Centre Squat Has Saved Our Lives'

Article excerpt

THEY'RE the squatters who are taking on the NHS, fighting to stay in the old GP surgery they now call home.

Around 14 rough sleepers are currently bedding down in the building on Church Street, in Eccles, Salford.

They've been there since early November and say they moved into the derelict surgery because there is a major homelessness problem in Salford and official shelters often won't take people with mental health issues.

But NHS bosses say the building was 'broken into and occupied without our consent' and is unsafe to live in.

NHS lawyers are now fighting a legal battle to evict the squatters.

What you Write to: M.E.N, Mitchell House, Oldham, Or email: @men-Last Thursday a judge at Manchester County Court ordered the squatters were to be removed within five days. But, just 24 hours later, they were given a stay of execution after their solicitors appealed the decision.

It means they've still got a roof over their heads - for now - but their longterm future remains uncertain. Earlier this week the M.E.N. visited the surgery.

Inside 12 men and two women, some of whom have battled drink and drug problems and mental health issues, have created their own little community, as they try to help each other get back on their feet.

Spread over three floors the surgery's former consultation rooms have been converted into bedrooms and the old waiting room is now a lounge complete with sofas, a TV and even a pool table, all donated by the community.

Mum-of-one, Stacie Martindale moved in with her dog, a huge French mastiff called Kion, in late November.

The 32-year-old had previously been a victim of domestic violence and when a later relationship broke down she found herself homeless.

Stacie, who suffers from anxiety, says the shelter 'saved my life.' .

She told the M.E.N.: "A lot of people walked in here with just a carrier bag, but now they're starting to build a life for themselves. …

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