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Thursday, 13 July 2017

Support worker saved Grenfell Tower family by urging them to flee blaze

Written by Jack Hardy

A family support worker saved the lives of tenants she knew in Grenfell Tower by persuading them to ignore official advice and escape the building.

The woman, who has not been named, urged the family to flee when she saw flames licking up the side of the tower on June 14.

As the 24-storey block turned into a pyre, many victims had their fate sealed by heeding the building's "stay put" policy in the event of a fire.

Her vital decision to ring the family, whom she had worked with through Kensington and Chelsea council's early help team, was shared by the director of children's services for the borough.

Clare Chamberlain hailed her "amazing" colleague, saying the trust she had built with the household led them to overrule the advice of emergency services.

"One of the early help practitioners had been working with a family and lived nearby, she saw the fire at one o'clock in the morning, ran out and called the family and said 'come down'," she told the Press Association.

"They said 'no, we have been given the advice to stay put', but she said 'come down, I can see the fire, just come down' and they came down.

"She helped them into the ambulance because they had smoke inhalation, but she saved their lives.

"Because she already knew them she was a voice of authority."

According to the senior council chief, the support worker stayed in phone contact with the survivors until a social worker could join them at hospital.

The family were now receiving support from both an early help worker and a social worker, she said.

She added: "My view is that the early help worker is amazing and went above and beyond to support a family that she knew."

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