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Charity opens a support line for residents affected by Barking fire

PUBLISHED: 11:14 14 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:14 14 June 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

A charity that has supported victims of the Grenfell tower fire has opened a support line for residents affected by the Barking Riverside blaze.

Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens at Barking Riverside was extensively damaged in the blaze. Picture: Andrew Brookes.Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens at Barking Riverside was extensively damaged in the blaze. Picture: Andrew Brookes.

Members of the 'psychosocial and mental health' team at the British Red Cross are helping people to cope with the emotional of the fire at De Pass Gardens on Sunday afternoon.

The fire, which broke out around 3.30pm at Samuel Garside House, forced residents to flee their homes and take refuge in the rest centre set up at Thames View Community Centre.

The blaze destroyed 20 flats, damaged another 10 and has displaced the residents of 80 homes.

Five households returned to their homes yesterday.

Caroline Ure, a psychosocial support team (PST) volunteer, who previously supported people after the Grenfell Tower disaster and Manchester bombings in 2017, spent time with several affected residents.

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She said: "An important part of our role is helping people to articulate what they're feeling. We can let them know that in a situation like this it's completely normal to feel very sad, or angry, or to lose sleep.

"People often say it's nice to be able to let their guard down with us and open up a little, because the rest of the time they are having to put a brave face on for their families, and they don't have the space to process their own feelings. I think that having a sympathetic listener at the right time can really help to alleviate the loneliness and vulnerability that come with an experience like this."

Jenny Walters, another PST volunteer who also supported people at Grenfell and Manchester as well as the London Bridge terror attacks, added: "Some of these residents have lost their homes and possessions. Others are struggling with guilt about not being so badly affected, the shock and upset of not being able to return home, or safety concerns.

"Several parents have been asking about how to help their children cope with the experience.

"I say that it's important to keep them in their routines as much as possible, make sure they go to school or nursery, but also to keep an eye on how they are feeling as time goes on in case they need more support."

Anyone who wants to talk can call the special line on 0844 463 2339 or 0203 417 0300 to speak to a trained volunteer.

The line is open daily between 5pm and 10 pm.

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