'Skipaholic' Katharine Hibbert in her London squat surrounded by some of the stuff she got for free. Photograph: David Levene
Trespassing isn't a crime in England and Wales, so squatters aren't breaking the law simply by being in someone else's property. If squatters displace someone from their home, they can be arrested straight away; but if a building is disused, once it is squatted it counts as a home – the only way to evict them is through the civil courts.
When Katharine Hibbert lost her job and her flat she didn't just downsize – she decided to dispense with money altogether, living on the stuff the rest of us throw away
I was sitting in a park, feeling sick. I'd left my job, packed my possessions away and given up my rented flat. My plan had been to find a squat and some food dumped by a shop or a cafe to eat, and to see how long I could survive without spending money, living off what would otherwise go to waste. Now I just wanted to go home. But it was too late.
All I possessed was a couple of changes of clothes, a sleeping bag and a wash kit. My pockets were empty. There was a £20 note in my bag but that was the only money I had.