Squatter-run community cafe relocates and re-opens

Despite being forced by Lewisham Council to switch off their ovens, take out their pies and hurriedly find new a new shelter in Deptford, Pie ‘n’ Mash are back and better than ever.

The squatter’s community café has been forced to relocate after being issued with an interim court order after the council demanded that they leave their 203 Deptford High Street address.

Pic: Charles Woodham
Pie ‘n’ Mash café’s old location. Pic: Charles Woodham

However, the grass is greener for the café, as their new digs in a former betting shop are an upgrade, reflected in the level of community involvement in the café. The collective, which wants to stay anonymous, told Eastlondonlines: “There are more opportunities now for the space to serve the community due to its location and also the state of the building – with disabled access, and a wider and lighter room space.”

Pie ‘n’ Mash explained that being nearer to Deptford Market means walk-ins are increasing, as “local people from the street are now coming in to help serve tea and coffee, and generally clean and keep the place tidy for all who use it.”

The café previously offered free pie and mash to anyone from the community, and now two, weeks into their second occupation, they are already back up and running. They said: “Since moving in a couple of weeks ago there have already been several communal dinner nights, and people have contacted us with other ideas for events for the community.”

The cafe aim to provide outreach services to the Deptford area that they claim the council “could never, and would never, provide”.

They are currently planning new local outreach efforts, ranging from housing action groups, to film nights, to homework clubs with qualified DBS checked volunteers. Pie ‘n’ Mash added: “We also hope to cook a Christmas roast dinner for the community. We can never predict these things, but we hope we can stay for an extended period here.”

Pie ‘n’ Mash shop window poster. Pic: Charles Woodham

Speaking of their last space, which they occupied for five weeks, Pie ‘n’ Mash told Eastlondonlines: “The building has now been evicted and sealed up, presumably to be left disused by the council while the building falls further into disrepair.”

However, Lewisham Council dispute this, telling Eastlondonlines: “Plans are being drawn up to convert the upper floors to residential use and to fully refurbish the ground floor shop for lease.”

New Pie ‘n’ Mash shopfront. Pic: Charles Woodham

The cold winter months are a dangerous time to be evicted, but the residents at the squat café are “not worried” if they face similar fate at the betting shop. They said: “There are several other empty shop spaces around here we that we can utilise if the project continues to be relevant to the community and there is the thirst for it to continue running.”

Pie ‘n’ Mash, who are also appealing for winter supplies, told Eastlondonlines: “Donations of clothes in good condition and winter items are welcomed from readers so we can supply those in most need, as well as donations of surplus food.”

You can find ‘Pie ‘n’ Mash’ at 70 Deptford High Street, and all are welcome to attend their community café from 12am-3pm and 7pm-9pm.

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