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Grenfell donations ‘not reaching survivors fast enough’

DONATIONS are not reaching survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire fast enough, campaigners say, following revelations less than 15 per cent of the money raised has been distributed.

Data released by the Charity Commission shows £7.25 million of the £18.9 million raised in the wake of the disaster has been handed to distributing organisations on the ground.

But nearly two months on from the tragedy, only £2.8 million has so far been given to survivors, figures show.

Organisations behind the fundraising drive said much of the raised cash was being held back until discussions could take place about how to best use it as the support effort continues.

The London Emergencies Trust, tasked with handing millions of pounds to bereaved families and survivors who were in hospital, added it had only received applications from families for £1.47 million worth of donations so far.

But Yvette Williams, a campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell, said the process of applying had proved difficult for some, particularly when English is not their first language.

‘Some of these people are still heavily traumatised,’ she said.

‘So they’re supposed to leave their hotel rooms, get down to wherever, fill in this application — they already feel like they have been put in a position where they’re begging for money.

‘Once decisions have been made about how it’s going to be distributed, the key workers attached to those families should be bringing those forms and doing it with them.’

At least 80 people are thought to have died in the west London inferno, while 158 families were forced into emergency accommodation.

Ms Williams said of the distribution process: ‘It’s definitely not been fast enough.

‘Information isn’t transparent. They have to beg for information and it’s still not clear the background of it, or how they’re going forward with it.’

Donated cash has been divided up into several forms by charities, including sums specifically for the bereaved or those treated in hospital and a separate ‘fresh start’ grant of £10,000 for all displaced families.

Red Cross and the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation both raised £5.75 million, with smaller sums from other organisations making a total of £18,856,206.

Some £7,257,713 has been sent to distributing organisations, while £2,807,400 has been distributed, figures show.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded to the disclosure by warning caution was needed to ensure donations reached the right people.

He said: ‘The Charity Commission have obviously got to examine very carefully what’s going on and make sure that the generosity, the unbelievable levels of generosity, of many people actually gets through to those who need it.

‘Clearly there is a responsibility on those who run organisations to make sure that it gets through to the people it’s intended for.

‘We have to just be cautious on this, otherwise those that want to give generously will be deterred.’