28 Sep 2017

Grenfell fire survivors relying on foodbanks, advocates say

8:40 am on 28 September 2017

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster have been treated with contempt and some are now relying on foodbanks to get by, victim advocates say.

Flowers and messages left by well-wishers in tribute to the victims of the June 14 Grenfell Tower block are pictured near the scene of the fire in North Kensington, west London on June 22, 2017.

At least 18 of the victims have now been identified as children. Photo: AFP

British Labour MP Emma Dent Coad has said that survivors are struggling to get by, despite millions of pounds being raised for their benefit in the aftermath of the fire.

Three months after the fire, which killed 80, some survivors have been forced to go to foodbanks to feed their families, she said.

Justice4Grenfell group coordinator Sue Caro told RNZ's Morning Report that despite the public donating more than £20 million ($NZ37m), along with food and clothing, in the fire's aftermath, hardly any of it had made its way to survivors.

"I think only £2m has been distributed and a lot of that hasn't gone to the survivors... Very little is getting through to the people that need it."

The poor treatment of survivors was "just one set of incompetence compounded by another", Ms Caro said.

"The survivors have been treated with contempt to a large extent - no empathy."

The majority of survivors were still staying in "completely inappropriate" hotel accommodation, she said.

Families of five were sharing a single room with a double bed.

Many felt they had been forgotten, she said. She knew of at least three people who had committed suicide and others who had made attempts, she said.

The latest inquests have revealed that at least 18 of the victims were children, more than half of them under the age of 11.

Several of those identified were siblings, with the fire wiping out complete families.

Senior Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox told Westminster Coroner's Court, which was packed with victims' relatives: "We hopefully now only have a handful of formal identifications to make."

She had identified 67 different victims of the fire, and adjourned and suspended those inquests, she said.

"I hope that has managed to bring some relief to the families who have been anxiously awaiting the return of their children to them," Dr Wilcox said, adding children on the missing list had been accounted for and identified.

- Reuters / RNZ

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