Victims advised to f*** of by council employees after Grenfell catastrophe, inquiry hears

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By Hannah Neary, Local Democracy Reporter

Grenfell victims were told to “f*** off” by a council housing officer after the fatal tragedy, the inquiry into the fire has heard.

A Kensington and Chelsea council worker swore at people who had escaped the blaze, according to one of the shelter workers.

Rupinder Hardy, who worked for Ealing council at the time of the fire, said RBKC staff working at the main hub for survivors were “rude” to Grenfell residents and volunteers.

The inquiry heard how Ms Hardy helped out at the Westway Centre – the main shelter for victims – in the days that followed the fire.

Speaking at the inquiry on Wednesday of last week, she said the centre was poorly managed by Kensington and Chelsea council as survivors had to seek shelter in a hot, smelly building.

Rupinder Hardy

She added: “It felt more like a crime scene than somewhere you would actually want bereaved survivors and residents to come in to seek help.”

She also said the centre was dirty, with overflowing bins, which smelled bad and were made worse during the hot weather in the days after the fire. She added: “You’d have vermin, you’d have flies.”

Ms Hardy said volunteers at the Westway Centre on June 18 told her they heard housing staff swearing at people who had escaped the fire.

In a statement, she said: “The volunteers raised a number of issues – rude and inconsiderate housing officers – and stated that housing officers continued to be problematic. Some of the housing staff were heard telling victims to ‘f*** off’.”

Ms Hardy said she didn’t personally hear any staff swear at survivors but many volunteers and Ealing council workers confirmed to her that it did happen.

She told the inquiry: “That’s not acceptable in any situation, in any circumstance. I just don’t understand the need for that. It was absolutely uncalled for.”

A survivor who escaped the burning tower told the inquiry that council staff were insensitive towards Grenfell residents immediately after the fire, offering them housing outside the borough.

Hanan Wahabi, who lost five family members in the blaze, previously said: “We were just like cattle. It was a tick-box exercise.”

The Grenfell Inquiry continues.

Pictured top: The tower ablaze (Picture: PA)

 

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