Barking Riverside fire: £20,000 raised to support families

PUBLISHED: 17:30 18 July 2019

The blaze engulfed six floors of the block of flats. Picture: @mobee_me /PA Wire

The blaze engulfed six floors of the block of flats. Picture: @mobee_me /PA Wire

@mobee_me /PA Wire

Kind-hearted people have helped to raise £20,000 for the victims of last month’s Barking Riverside fire.

The blaze tore through Samuel Garside House, De Pass Gardens, on the afternoon of June 9, leaving those who lived in the block homeless.

And with some due to move back in next week, Barking and Dagenham Council has revealed just how generous those living in the borough have been in supporting the families.

"We have coordinated donations of clothing and other essentials and helped raise around £20,000," a spokesman said.

"We played a vital role in the immediate aftermath of the fire, ensuring displaced residents had somewhere safe to go, and that temporary accommodation, access to food, clothing and other essential supplies were provided.

"This included setting up and staffing a rest centre as part of our emergency response, and making sure other organisations made themselves available to address residents' questions and ensure their welfare was put first.

"In the weeks since then, we have worked closely with NHS colleagues and the British Red Cross, who have offered support to those affected by the fire. We continue to offer families one-to-one support to this day."

Some Samuel Garside House residents gathered outside Barking town hall to protest against being asked to return, with the council saying that the authority shared residents' frustrations, but that they were doing "everything within their very limited powers".

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He said: "We appreciate the concerns residents have raised about returning to their homes before fire safety and structural risk assessments are carried out.

"We're also aware insurers have been refusing to continue to cover the cost of temporary accommodation.

"We have gone to every length possible to make the aftermath of the fire more bearable for residents - finding suitable temporary accommodation while their homes were being repaired, at a time when we have a shortage of housing for our own tenants.

"We also helped persuade the insurers to cover these costs, so families were not stuck in hotel rooms for weeks."

The spokesman added: "This fire represents wider safety concerns and we have called on the Government to widen the ban on combustible material on new buildings, as it currently only applies to those over 18m.

"This is simply not reassuring for any of our residents living in lower rise blocks.

"Earlier this week, the leader of the council also wrote directly to the secretary of state for communities and local government, James Brokenshire MP, stressing the need for proper risk assessments of Samuel Garside House and the backing our borough needs from government to help the families affected to continue staying in temporary accommodation until they are confident their homes are safe.

"Building control sign off when the block was built was also not undertaken by the council - Bellway Homes chose to instead use appointed an Approved Inspector (NHBC) - which they are legally allowed to do.

"We recognise this is a hugely unsettling time for some of the people involved in the fire.

"While we have no legal powers to make the companies involved behave in a morally responsible way, we are calling on the government to make sure firm action is taken. We want to see the families affected by the fire living in homes that are safe and secure, so they can continue to get on with living their lives."

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