Wednesday, 21 October 2020

How many disabled people are living in fear in Brent's high rises after Grenfell?

As the number of high rises proliferate throughout Brent and the cladding issue in many tower blocks unresolved, even as the horrors of Grenfell are relived through the current Inquiry, it is worth thinking about the situation of people with a disability in such buildings.

The London Fire Brigade has said that disabled people should not be placed in any accommodation above the 4th floor. One of the fatalities at Grenfell was a woman who had been told by Kensington and Chelsea Council that she would not be housed above the 4th floor, but tragically, she was.

A disabled pensioner in a Brent Council block has approached Wembley Matters to tell us about his situation. 

Since Grenfell he has asked the council to rehouse him on a lower floor and in response they have asked him why he accepted a flat in a South Kilburn high rise above the 4th floor way back in April, 1993.

They have also lost the record of the PEEP (Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan) that he had sent them and demanded proof that he was disabled despite the council's own OT team assessing him last year and installing a wet room and sit down shower as a result. He thinks that this action, in itself, is proof of his mobility needs.

He remarked that the council had found homes for nearly 900 students but had told him that they had no spare home to offer him. A different case of course, and a private provider,  but it clearly rankles.

The resident could see Grenfell from his tower block his tower block as he wrote his email to Wembley Matters and reflected that there had been two fires in his block during his tenancy and he had not known about them until he smelt the smoke. His neighbours and fire officers had shouted warnings to leave the building but he had not heard them because of the hearing impairment he has on top of his mobility problem.

He asks how many other disabled people are living in fear of fire in Brent's high rises in the shadow of the Grenfell disaster?

A good question, deserving of an answer.

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