Volunteers, NGOs ‘filled void’ in Grenfell Tower fire aftermath

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Voluntary organisations and local volunteers in the UK filled the void of emergency response by authorities in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people in London last year, charities say. 

A new report released on Wednesday by the non-profit Muslim Aid group and its partners highlights the critical role played by NGOs, as well as individuals, who stepped up to meet the needs of victims where officials fell short.

“The spirit of humanitarian action displayed mainly by the community itself and supported by an array of local organisations and businesses, as well as individual volunteers and representatives from external organisations, filled the void where there was a lack of official direction, coordination and information,” said Muslim Aid’s CEO Jehangir Malik in a statement.

Volunteers initially helped with distributing food, donating clothes, finding overnight accommodation and providing psychological support to victims and their families, the report said. 

Faith organisations and Muslim volunteers also played an important role, meeting the needs of the Islamic community during the holy month of Ramadan, it said.

Public inquiry

The UK government has faced intense criticism for its conduct after the blaze last June and its purported failings leading to the tragedy.

WATCH: Grenfell inquiry set to begin

Survivors complain it has failed to provide them with adequate information on what happened in the building, and on where and when they will be rehoused.

A series of protests have been held over the past year, with demonstrators demanding more answers and justice. 

An independent public inquiry into the disaster was launched earlier this month. 

Muslim Aid’s Malik criticised disaster preparedness and response systems, which were exposed after the blaze. 

“The utter mayhem was a shock,” he said. “I would have expected this chaos in a developing country, because almost always there is poor infrastructure.

“We are now asking for lessons to be learned and for greater coordination of the voluntary organisations with local authorities, including as part of national emergency response structures.”

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