Freedom News

London autonomous bookshop & cafe to open

Winter is coming, and that means the autonomous shelter season is upon us once again. Last year a St. Mungo’s hostel in Gray’s Inn Road was occupied from December to April, before exploding into a small network of interlinked shelters across Central and East London. The Autonomous Shelters Network is already back in action in solidarity with the houseless community at an undisclosed number of locations across the city.

This Wednesday will see the opening of the Autonomous Cafe & Bookshop in a former ‘necropolis station’ at 121 Westminster Bridge Road as part of the Autonomous Winter Shelter Network. It will be serving liberated coffee for pay-what-you-can from 2pm, with an open mike from 6 till 8pm. All money raised will be profitshared amongst people working in the cafe, or donated to helping finance the project. Freedom received the following communique from the AWSN:

In this time of crisis, as a collective of people from different backgrounds, we choose to occupy a property as a form of non-violent direct action, not only with the intention to live there but also to help fellow victims of poverty and social injustice.

We wish to start an autonomous open door coffee shop and infoshop to learn and to teach about the struggles in poverty. The aim is to share experiences and material goods in these times of need, as well as meet people who are keen on working together to improve the situation. To open an empty space in order to provide food and clothing is to act in a meaningful way in this time of social emergency. We will not only take good care of a building and make great coffee, but also give it great purpose! Our goals:- We want to create an accessible and safe space for everyone who is interested in autonomous practices.

To educate and organise ourselves and others, and contribute to the Autonomous Winter Shelter Network.

Sharing food, clothes and books, fundraising (books, art, events).

Hosting workshops, skillshares, info-talks, meetings, discussions and debates about issues that affect us.

Great coffee – pay as you like policy. Everyone can afford a cup!”

The buildings form part of the Autonomous Shelter Network – a mutual aid, mutual respect association dedicated to direct housing and the provision of food and necessities.

The cafe is a place of contact for the public, houseless people and the media, but for now all queries and requests can be directed to autonomous_shelters_network [at] protonmail [dot] com. Please contact Victor on the email above if you are able to provide any of the following:

Van/car hire for delivery pick/up

Food, especially canned goods, dried

Cutlery, cooking equipments

Clothing – especially socks, underwear

Mattresses, bedding, blankets


Cleaning equipment

Bicycles, parts, tools

Old laptops, computers, phones

Tools, especially screws

Building materials, wood, metal

The shelters also appreciate volunteers who wish to dedicate time to work alongside residents and collaborate. All the spaces are explicitly anti-authoritarian and encourage a collectivist spirit, and although we strive to understand why people perpetuate abuse, it is not tolerated. If you wish to drop-off any of the above, or indeed meet someone from the network, please contact the person listed above.





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