Residents who fled the Grenfell Tower area describe memories that haunt them – and fears that the real toll may never be known
Thomassina Hessel used to love the view from her studio flat on the Lancaster West estate, of gardens set against the backdrop of Grenfell Tower. Now she sees only a blackened tomb, 24 storeys of burnt-out homes that stir up memories of the terrible fire – and fears for her three-year-old son’s future.
There is no hot water or gas on the estate more than a week after the blaze, and occasionally three loud whistles ring out – a warning for emergency services and residents who have ventured back to their flats to evacuate immediately, because the remains of the tower could shed debris, or even collapse. Non-residents are barred from the estate entirely.
Residents in properties with the same cladding at Grenfell Tower are being told to leave their homes so the work can take place. Some are refusing to go
Ever since the horror of the Grenfell Tower fire less than five miles away, Artan Moallim has barely slept a wink in the 16th-floor, one-bedroom Camden apartment he, his wife and three young daughters call home.
Yet they were still unprepared for the knock on their door at 2am on Saturday morning ahead of the evacuation of thousands of people from five high-rise tower blocks on north London’s Chalcots Estate, and like many others he was still asking questions later in the day outside the community centre where households were being told to register.
As affordable housing in Britain’s capital is replaced by luxury towers, people on middle incomes are being priced out, while the poor are forced to pay extortionate rents for shocking conditions
The first time I met Ian Dick, the head of private housing at Newham council in east London, he took me on a walk to look for “beds in sheds”. It was 2011, and alongside criminal levels of overcrowding in private rental properties, there was a growing problem of people living in illegal structures in back gardens. It was not uncommon to find 10 or 20 people living in a room above a fried chicken shop, in a basement, or in ramshackle outbuildings. When we met again, five years later, he was happy to talk to me, not because these problems had disappeared, but because he was proud of the council’s private rented sector licensing regime. Introduced in 2013, it was the first such scheme in the country and had led to 800 prosecutions and 28 landlords being banned from renting property to tenants.
This time we met in Forest Gate, traditionally one of the most deprived parts of Newham. “This is an area undergoing the most dramatic change – the council doesn’t use the term ‘gentrification’, they use the term ‘regeneration’,” he said as we strolled down a pleasant high street in the sunshine, looking up at Victorian facades renovated by the council. Along the road, hipster cafes and pubs were interspersed with clothing retailers, halal butchers and phone shops. To show me the reality in some of the flats above, he took me around the back, where an entire street was accessed by a badly maintained private alleyway, with a huge pile of mattresses dumped at one end.
We paused to look at the ‘to let’ signs in the newsagents. One offered a room share for four people for £160 a month
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There are more requirements to run a cattery than to rent out a home
Coroner rules out unlawful killing but finds fault with medics and police who restrained graduate at London psychiatric hospital
The death of a man after prolonged restraint by police on a mental health ward was caused in part by “disproportionate and unreasonable” use of force, pain compliance techniques and multiple mechanical restraints, an inquest has found.
The narrative conclusion, which came after the coroner ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing, found fault with both police officers and medics involved in the death of Olaseni Lewis at Bethlem Royal hospital in south London in 2010.
Related: Man who died after police restraint was ‘gentle giant’, court told
We do the vast majority of soldiers an injustice if we refuse to distinguish between those who break the law and those who do not
Those who are given powerful weapons, and the authority to kill with them, must be subject to the law. Forget that all-too-common Hollywood trope in which the brave combatant is held back by the petty restrictions of armchair lawyers. “Shit, charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500,” remarks Captain Willard in Apocalypse Now. No, soldiers should be grateful for the law because it is precisely the law, and its underlying morality, that distinguishes soldiers from murderers. The law is the soldier’s friend.
More than 500 teenagers take part in event, which aims to raise awareness and help remove the stigma surrounding issue
“Talking about mental health does not make you weak,” the world’s largest mental health lesson has been told. Til Wykes, a clinical psychologist, told an audience of more than 500 13-18-year-olds from around the country: “We want to get people to come to treatment early because if they come early, they recover faster and they recover better.”
The event on Tuesday at Hackney Empire in east London, compered by the 4Music presenter Maya Jama, was designed to teach children and young people about what mental health is, how to protect it and deal with problems when they arise. Officially recognised as the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever mental health lesson, with 538 young people present, the hope is that it also raises general awareness about the issue among young people and helps combat the stigma surrounding it.
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