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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Charities and community spring into action to support Grenfell Tower victims

Written by Catherine Wyatt and Stephen Jones

Companies, individuals and charities have sprung into action to offer help to anyone affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Here is a summary of some of the efforts so far:

Rest centres set up nearby

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea said there was a rest centre at Harrow Centre, Freston Road, while nearby St Clements Church was collecting clothes, food and water for those affected - many of whom had been forced to escape the building in their night clothes.

The Rugby Portobello Trust said they are "with many of the residents" and have asked people to "hold off on dropping anything to RPT until we can put together a list of what is needed".

Former England rugby player Will Greenwood had urged the public to send emergency provisions to the trust, at 221 Walmer Road, London, W11 4EY.

The group also set up a Facebook event, urging people able to offer space in their homes to come forward.

The British Red Cross said its volunteers were supporting people at the trust, and were now directing people with donations to the nearby St Francis Church.

Football clubs seek to help

Local football clubs Queens Park Rangers (QPR) and Fulham have offered their to help those left homeless by the blaze.

A QPR spokesman said it was "in dialogue" with Kensington and Chelsea Council about how it could help and had suggested the club's Loftus Road stadium "as a relief centre for the emergency services and those affected, and also as a drop-off centre for clothes and provisions".

Fulham later issued a statement saying donations could be taken to the club's Craven Cottage stadium or their training ground at Motspur Park in New Malden - adding that the items would then be sent to St Clements Church.

Individuals offer up their homes

A number of individuals have reached out via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to offer accommodation and transport help to those affected.

One woman, named Giselle, tweeted: "Just called [Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea] @RBKC and left my details. They are looking for emergency housing. I have offered my place. Do the same if you can #Grenfell"

Instagram user co._lams posted an image reading: "Any residents of Grenfell Tower or Lancaster West Estate who need a local place to stay DM me."

Many others posted on the Rugby Portobello Trust event with contact details for accommodation.

Local businesses step in

Businesses at the nearby Notting Dale Village brought trolleys of refreshments including sandwiches and fruit to the emergency services working at the cordons around Grenfell Tower.

Manager Hayley Allen said: "We have a local community focus and wanted to help and show our support in whatever way we could."

Volunteers stood on the edge of the exclusion zone with trays of sandwiches, which were offered to police as they walked past.

Phone company EE also said people are welcome to use their stores in the local area if they need to contact anyone or use social media.

They said the stores on Kensington High Street, Notting Hill, Queensway and the two in White City are closest to the incident.

Crowdfunding pages raise thousands

A number of crowdfunding pages have been set up for those affected by the blaze, with one raising more than £20,000 within hours.

The appeal, on the JustGiving website, was set up by an account in the name of Haley Yearwood, with the note: "I am a teacher at a local school and know that many of our students and their families will be affected by this awful fire.

"It is a really close-knit community and the trauma will be felt for years to come. I'd like to help in any way possible."

Anyone concerned for loved ones in the blaze can contact the Met Police casualty bureau on 0800 0961 233.

Former chancellor George Osborne - now editor of the London Evening Standard - tweeted that the paper had launched an appeal for residents on its dedicated website

Local businesses

Marco Antoniades, who owns MGA Autos on Latimer Road, near Grenfell Tower, has offered to take in "clothes, food or anything that can help" at his garage to deliver to people affected by the fire.

"I heard some of the other places for donations are full already so I'm just giving people the option to bring things here," he told the Press Association.

"Everyone is walking round in shock.

"I've seen a couple of friends nearly in tears in other garages round here.

"Like in most places in England people get together and help each other in times like this and that's what we're trying to do."

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