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From Bristol to Land's End: 'Why I chose to live in a derelict shed to escape the housing crisis'

Catrina Davies moved into a derelict shed near Land's End in Cornwall. Credit: ITV News West Country

A woman who decided to live in a derelict shed at the furthest point of Cornwall to escape what she calls the "housing crisis" says she has learned the true value of having somewhere to live.

Catrina Davies decided she needed to break the cycle of sharing houses with strangers and struggling to pay rent - so she took extreme measures.

Now she has written a highly acclaimed book explaining why we all need to think again about our relationship with where we live.

Catrina has lived in the shed for the last seven years. Credit: ITV News

Catrina says she remembers walking around Bristol "desperately warning to find somewhere".

I just remember walking round Bristol desperately wanting to find somewhere that I could just be on my own and just looking at spaces thinking I could live in there, like some kind of tumbledown shack or something. There were all these empty flats, this was just after the financial crash and it was just like what the hell? We're all crammed into this house and we're all miserable, but obviously it's the economics of it. It's not about whether or not people need a house and a home, it's how much money you've got. Eventually it all just whipped itself up into a crisis I suppose.

– Catrina Davies

Feeling an overwhelming need to return to her Cornish roots, Catrina remembered a derelict shed which her dad used to use as an office. There was no electricity, no toilets and the garden was overgrown.

It was only meant to be temporary - but seven years on, the shed has been transformed into a cosy living space.

The shed was used by Catrina's dad before he went bankrupt. Credit: ITV News

She says the discussion around housing needs to be more "emotional".

When we talk about housing we don't maybe think enough about the emotional side of it. It's not actually just about shelter, it's not necessarily one box fits all, it's more about the freedom that it offers and the security. There's lots of quite serious inequality and greed, so it's all to do with how we choose to live, how we relate to the world. We're locking ourselves away in these plush little cages and it's all a bit weird.

– Catrina Davies
Catrina grew up at the furthest point of Cornwall. Credit: ITV News

The average house price in Cornwall is around £230,000 - more than 12 times the average salary. Catrina believes her struggles with anxiety and depression were heightened by her housing worries.

It's probably why there's so much of a mental health crisis, because this stuff is fundamental. We need this kind of lifestyle I think, we need to be growing things and going in the sea and hanging out with trees. I think I'm mentally healthier, much healthier than I was. When I came here I didn't know the names of birds and the names of plants, I didn't know how to grow anything. I've learned a lot. This is a kind of voluntary poverty and simplicity, most people can't make this choice because of rent, because of housing. So I think it's really coercive. Capitalism is fine, if you want to go off and make loads of money that's fine, but if you don't that should also be an option available and it's not and the reason it's not is because housing is so expensive for everybody.

– Catrina Davies
Catrina's book explains how she was affected by the housing crisis. Credit: ITV News