UK

Grenfell Tower Fire Donations 'Not Reaching Survivors Quickly Enough'

Less than 15% has been distributed.

11/08/2017 10:24 BST | Updated 11/08/2017 11:12 BST

Just a fraction of the £18.9 million raised in the wake of the Grenfell fire has reached survivors, according to data released by the Charity Commission.

The regulator said that £7.25 million had been sent to distributing organisations on the ground, with just £2.8 million being distributed so far - less than 15%. 

Nearly two months have passed since the devastating blaze ripped through the 24-storey Lancaster West Estate tower block, killing at least 80 people. 

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Survivors of the Grenfell Tower blaze are still waiting for the majority of funds donated

There is growing frustration and mistrust in the community over where the funds are and when they are going to be distributed.

Yvette Williams, from the Justice for Grenfell group, said: “It’s definitely not been fast enough.

“The survivors are raising it more and more – where’s the money, who’s distributing it, why aren’t they distributing it, how have they been chosen to distribute it, what’s the criteria for distribution, and how are you communicating with the people who should be receiving that money?

“Information isn’t transparent. They have to beg for information and it’s still not clear the background of it, or how they’re going forward with it.”

She said that survivors have been put in a position where they are “begging for money” by having to seek out funds. 

“Once decisions have been made about how it’s going to be distributed the key workers attached to those families should be bringing those forms and doing it with them,” she added.

Both the British Red Cross and the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation raised £5.75 million.

The Evening Standard fund collected more than £6.7 million, with smaller collections from other organisations, including the Rugby Portobello Trust and Muslim Aid, making a total of £18,856,206.

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Volunteers organising boxes of donations following near Grenfell Tower in west London during the immediate aftermath of the fire

The Charity Commission said: “Charities are now trying to work with the survivors and those affected to discuss how the rest of the funds should be distributed to meet the short, medium and long term needs of those affected by this awful tragedy.”

It added that transparency information would be updated on a weekly basis.

The regulator said early difficulties in identifying and contacting those who need help are being overcome. Charities - who decide how to distribute the funds - are reaching people, and applications are being made, it said. 

Chief operating officer David Holdsworth said: “We have been working to help charities coordinate their response so that those affected know where to go to get access to the funds that have been raised for them.

“As the regulator, we also ensure that funds are protected for those they are intended for.

“It is unusual for us to be involved in this way as regulator, but because of the urgent need of the victims of this tragedy, and because of the great generosity of the public who have given millions to different charities, it was right that we stepped in and helped charities work together in the best interests of those affected.”

For weeks, survivors and relatives of those who lived in Grenfell Tower have been questioning the whereabouts of the funds raised.

Speaking at a community meeting last month, Grenfell Tower survivor Yvonne Harris said residents of the high-rise block have not been consulted on how donations should be distributed.

“Where is this money? Who gives them this authority on how to share this money? They haven’t consulted us. 

“At the end of the day, we as the residents of Grenfell Tower should have a say how that money is distributed,” Harris said.

Meanwhile, the gas supply to four tower blocks in south east London was cut off on Thursday after an investigation revealed that the buildings may not be safe in the wake of the Grenfell fire.

Residents living in the 242 flats on the Ledbury Estate, near Old Kent Road, were told they would have to move out in the coming weeks.

Southwark Council said that it was “not willing to take any risks”, although they acknowledged that the move is inconvenient for those living on the estate.

Grenfell Tower Fire Dead