03 Jul Statement on Grenfell Tower
This post was edited on 4th August 2017 to reflect the evolving picture of the Grenfell Tower aftermath.
Along with everyone else living and working in this community, all of us at West London Zone have been deeply distressed by the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, which is just a few hundred metres away from our office.
Because of the nature of our work, we have not been formally involved in the immediate relief effort, but we want to be part of the long-term response to help those affected by the fire to rebuild their lives, once the initial rush of help subsides and public attention shifts elsewhere. We already work closely with the ClementJames Centre, one of the key local organisations supporting local families, and are due to start work in schools in the Grenfell neighbourhood from September.
West London Zone’s aim is to deliver preventative support to the children and young people in this area, as a way to catch problems early before they develop into crises in later youth or adulthood. We need to do our best work now, to stop the short-term trauma that children and young people might be experiencing from evolving into entrenched problems later in their lives.
As well as contributing to the summer school programme run by local Ark Schools and others, we are also exploring the potential for a specific Grenfell Tower cohort, who would be provided with a long-term package of support based on the existing WLZ model.
One of the strengths of our model is that it is child-led and highly individualised – in other words, we bring in the right support for that specific child once we have discussed with the child and their family where they feel they could use help, what they enjoy, and what they would like to achieve in the future. For a crisis of this scale, especially at this early stage, figuring out what form support should take is, in itself, a hugely important undertaking – the needs of those affected will not be uniform across the community, and they will likely change over time. Nonetheless, we expect that long term therapy/counselling work will form a critical part of this (we are already building a network of counsellors/therapists for the families). We would also provide the families with a highly skilled Link Worker with crisis/post crisis experience, who can help the families access all available support (including statutory support), and, slowly, work out exactly what this tragedy is going to mean for all of us.
We would look to fund this work via philanthropic donations and grants as a separate, but related, programme of West London Zone work – although we should stress that these plans are very much in motion and may yet change as we learn more about the impact of the disaster on the children and the community. We are part of the ongoing conversation between local funders and delivery organisations, to ensure we are making a coordinated response. Indeed, given the amount of support that is beginning to be offered, there is a clear need for the sort of co-ordinating role that WLZ can play, and for people like WLZ Link Workers on the ground who can engage with families in a friendly, non-threatening manner and help them make use of the available opportunities.
If you would like to donate to West London Zone in order to support either this or our wider work, please contact Freddie O’Farrell. You can also make a contribution to the immediate Grenfell efforts via the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation, at https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/grenfell.
If you would like any more information on the fire or where support is currently available, please visit the relevant gov.uk page.