Grenfell Tower: Less than 6 per cent of donated goods given to survivors

Grenfell Tower (Rex)

Less than 6 per cent items donated in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire have been given to survivors and relatives of those who died in the disaster, it has been revealed.

At least 80 people were killed after the 24-storey, 220-foot-high tower block in North Kensington, London caught fire on 14 June 2017.

An estimated 174 tonnes of items were donated by the public and are being handled by the British Red Cross, according to the BBC.

However, just 10 tonnes (5.7 per cent) have or will soon be made available to the former residents.

A further 77 tonnes are being sold in British Red Cross shops and to textile recycling companies, with the proceeds going to survivors of the disaster

But half of the total items donated — 87 tonnes — are yet to be sorted, the British Red Cross has said.

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Diana Goss, from the British Red Cross says Grenfell is “really off the scale” as a logistical challenge.

The figures revealed in the investigation reveal how public donations dwarf that given by the state.

The government pledged £5,500 in emergency funds for every household who lost their home, announcing a £5million relief fund three days after the disaster.

80 people died in the fire (Rex)

But as much as £20m has been donated by individuals, businesses and charities.

That is: £5.5m from the London Community Foundation/Evening Standard Dispossessed Fund; £5.1m from the K&C Foundation; £4.7m from British Red Cross; £4m raised by 700 individual appeals on the websites such as JustGiving and GoFundMe; £500,000 from four Muslim charities.

British Red Cross chief executive Mike Adamson added: “Thanks to generous donations from people across London and across the UK, much-needed clothing, food, toiletries have been available for people affected by this terrible fire since day one.

“We understand that 6% of donations returned may sound like a small amount, but it is 10 tonnes – the equivalent weight to around five London black cabs. More items are being sent as soon as they are needed.

“Where there are excess donations, these can still help, by being sold to provide people with the money.”

However, of those donations less than £800,000 has been given out so far.

On the day of the fire, as items flooded in, Kensington and Chelsea council released a statement saying it had received enough donations.

“The Council would like to thank all those who have made generous donations of food, clothing and other items,” it said.

“We would ask you to please hold off for now as we have been inundated with useful items. When we need donations again we will update via our website and social media.”

The council’s response is widely considered to have been inadequate, resulting in the government launching a dedicated response team.

On 29 June, Sir Martin Moore-Bick was appointed to lead the public inquiry into the fire, promising an “open, transparent and fair” investigation.

However, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn later wrote Theresa May expressing “concern among residents and others that the judge leading the inquiry has already been directed towards a narrowly defined terms of reference”.

Survivors of the fire, who have expressed their anger and frustration at the lack of arrests in connection with the tragedy, are continuing to clash with council representatives.

At a recent public meeting, local residents were heard to shout “this is state terrorism”, while one man was heard to say: “You murdered our friends, you murdered our neighbours.”

In numbers

  • The London Emergencies Trust (LET) has helped 16 bereaved and injured people from the Grenfell Tower fire, making a total of £158,000 in initial payments so far.
  • LET is helping another 40 people complete their claims, working with police family liaison officers, key workers and local groups and organisations. 
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  • Application forms are available from police family liaison officers, key workers and local groups and organisations. Or just ring the Red Cross helpline on 0800 458 9472 to ask for one.