Socialist Worker

No mental health support or housing for Grenfell survivors

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2564

A section of a protest outside a Kensington and Chelsea council meeting last Wednesday

A section of a protest outside a Kensington and Chelsea council meeting last Wednesday (Pic: PA)


The class divide brought into the light by the Grenfell Tower fire has been further exposed this week.

Families are still struggling in temporary accommodation and overcrowded hotel rooms.

Meanwhile, it emerged on Monday that the council sold just two council houses in the borough for £4.5 million.

That’s more than the cost of the cladding that is thought to have contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

The council has offered survivors temporary accommodation which, it claims, could become permanent.

Some 40 households have taken up the offer out of 168 who were offered it. But temporary accommodation is often too small and of poor quality.

And traumatised people are being left without support.

A police “gold command” meeting on Monday morning, which was sparsely attended by survivors, focused on mental health issues.

Joe Delaney from the Grenfell Action Group attended the meeting.

“Mental health support services are very patchy and sporadic—and at times, non-existent,” he told Socialist Worker.

Phone

“They’ve closed the Westway Centre and moved services to the Curve on Bard Lane. That’s only open until five or six every night, so people who need help after that have to phone a call centre.”

Joe pointed out that it is only weeks since the blaze and that people are suffering trauma.

“Residents near the block are hearing people screaming at night,” he said. “You’re seeing people wandering around the streets.

“Quite a few of us have dealt with people who are suicidal.

“The council has the money for mental health services. It shouldn’t fall to residents to help people.”

Survivors and the relatives of the dead want justice. That would include councillors facing prosecution for signing off on decisions that officially left at least 81 people dead in the fire.

Those who have suffered paid the price for David Cameron’s “bonfire of regulations”.

The Tories in government and in Kensington and Chelsea council should be breaking their backs to make amends for what they’ve done. Instead, the they're trying to cover their backs.

Eric Pickles, minister for local government in 2013, failed to order councils to retro fit sprinkler systems. This is despite the fact that they were recommended after a report into the 2009 Lakanal House fire in Southwark.

Councils across Britain are assessing the cost of retro-fitting sprinklers to older high rise tower blocks.

Birmingham city council estimates it will cost £31 million. The government should make those funds available.

A united campaign with a clear set of demands pointing at the people responsible for the deaths at Grenfell can win justice.


Evictions soar to record high

Around 40,000 tenants in England were evicted in 2015.

It’s the highest figure on record and up a third on 2003 figures.

Some 80 percent of the increase was accounted for by so-called “no fault evictions”.

These give tenants two months’ notice to leave their homes.

Meanwhile, the Local Government Association says councils are currently providing temporary accommodation for 120,540 children.

The new figures expose the housing crisis in the most shocking way.

If there is to be a meaningful solution it means a mass council house building campaign.

The Grenfell Tower fire must be a line in the sand for cheap, dangerous housing and the private sector is the least regulated.

If it’s left up to the Tories the calls for justice will be ignored.

The whole working class movement needs to take up the call for a new generation of safe council housing and an end to skyrocketing homelessness.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.