KENSINGTON and Chelsea council’s response to the Grenfell Tower, which claimed the lives of so many men, women and children was ‘badly flawed’ leaving volunteers and charities to provide clothes, food and shelter for survivors in the aftermath of the fire, a new report released yesterday has confirmed.
The report ‘Mind the Gap: A Review of the Voluntary Sector Response to the Grenfell Tragedy’ finds that many voluntary organisations, however ill-prepared, stepped up to the challenge of meeting the needs of the affected community where the council ‘fell short’. The response by the authorities to the Grenfell Tower fire caused damage that ‘has been difficult to repair’, the report concluded.
The review by Muslim Aid criticised ‘weak leadership’ at Kensington and Chelsea Council.
It found volunteers were left ‘on the front line’ helping residents find food and shelter following the fire on 14 June 2017.
Muslim Aid’s chief executive, Jehangir Malik, who coordinated volunteers in the aftermath of the blaze, said: ‘I would have expected this chaos in a developing country, because almost always there is poor infrastructure. I honestly thought we had better disaster preparedness and response systems here in the UK. ‘In the days that followed, there wasn’t even a single person with a clipboard people could go to to get some answers from.
‘The spirit of humanitarian action displayed mainly by the community itself and supported by an array of local organisations and businesses, as well as individual volunteers and representatives from external organisations filled the void where there was a lack of official direction, coordination and information.’
Meanwhile, Kensington and Chelsea council is set to spend £3.5m replacing 4,000 fire doors in all its social housing after the Grenfell Tower blaze. A police investigation found in March that doors used in the tower failed tests and could resist fire for only 15 minutes, instead of the 30 minutes required by building regulations guidance.
Earlier this month James Brokenshire, the Housing and Communities Secretary, said all Manse doors – the kind used in Grenfell Tower – across the country must be replaced. The final decision to replace doors across the borough will be made by councillors on 6th June.