Many are upset to learn that only a small fraction of the donations made to the Grenfell tower victims have actually made it to the survivors and families. While nearly £19 million has been raised by charities— led by the Red Cross, the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation, and the Evening Standard— only £2.8m had reached victims. The numbers come from the Charity Commission. They show that less than 15 percent of the total amount raised has been passed along.
“It is unusual for us to be involved in this way as regulator, but because of the urgent need of the victims of this tragedy, and because of the great generosity of the public who have given millions to different charities, it was right that we stepped in and helped charities work together in the best interests of those affected,” David Holdsworth, the registrar of charities in England and Wales, has said in a statement.
There are undeniably issues around the most efficient and useful way to distribute funds. But it still feels like far too small of a percentage. Yes, there will be regulatory issues. Yes, there need to be some people with an overhead view of where the funds need to go. And you can even see why it would take some time to sort through these issues. But this far after the tragedy— which took place on the 14th of June— the victims deserve better. Peter Herbert, of BMELawyers4Grenfell, said:
“We are appalled by the lack of transparency and accountability over funds raised so far for Grenfell survivors. The community has been making complaints for weeks about where the money has gone and until now have effectively been ignored. So far survivors have not been consulted about how they would like to see funds raised being used.”
“There are blueprints which could be used for Grenfell such as the Oklahoma bombing, where survivors were consulted on a regular basis about how funds raised for them were used. By now much more money should have reached survivors and community organizations doing the work on the ground. We will be taking this up with the Charity Commission directly and requesting an urgent meeting.”
While there have been statements issues by the Red Cross that “every penny” of funds raised through them will go to survivors and families, these numbers and a recent audio recording circulating the internet have left some skeptical. The recording is allegedly a phone conversation with a Red Cross worker. It states that survivors will only be receiving a ten thousand pound grant. Slightly more is available if they spend extended time in hospital. And £20,000 is available for those who lost in the fire. But it seems to suggest that no more will be distributed to victims. In response to the recording— which the Red Cross has said is genuine— they will be going over the information provided to the caller to see if it is correct.
Maybe the money will all end up in the hands of survivors and families. We can only hope. But in the meantime, there is a desperate need for more transparency and more organization for those who survived Grenfell. These people have already been through enough.