Residents of the flats destroyed when fire ripped through it on Friday night say they are in shock – but overwhelmed by the community’s response.
A fundraiser started as the block in Pankhurst Road was still ablaze has so far raised more than £5,000 – and neighbours have been inundated with donations of clothes, toys and other essentials for those affected.
The Guinness Partnership – the housing association which owns the block – has organised full board hotel accommodation for residents until Tuesday night, after which its hoping to move them into longer term temporary accommodation.
And mental health counselling is being offered to anyone who needs it.
David Jackson, one of the residents who have lost their home said: “I would like to thank everyone for they’re help at this time, it’s good to know people care.”
The fundraiser was started by neighbours Carina, Georgina and Megan on Friday night, and an email address to co-ordinate donations soon followed.
Georgina said: “The community response has been massive. My wife Megan set up the firstname.lastname@example.org email and has been going through that where initially people were emailing to say what they wanted to donate and we are now using that to organise the jumble sale.
“Residents are still in shock I think it’s starting to sink in now. They have been offered support from community mental health workers.
“We’re not taking donations any more. Residents have been given vouchers by the housing association. We are pushing the go fund me campaign so that people can buy the things they need as and when.
“Some community members are setting up a jumble sale date tbc with things people want to donate but aren’t needed. Money will go straight to the fund.
“There’s a meeting happening today about how the council will handle the money and distribute.
“The Edge Community Centre is open again today until 4pm with local residents, council staff and Guinness Partnership liaison officers there and ready to help and support anyone affected by the fire.
“Thank you again to local residents who continue to care for and support their friends and neighbours.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The council has arranged for mental health specialists skilled in supporting people experiencing shock and anxiety following incidents like large fires to be at the Edge Community Centre today – please ask for help if you need it.
“As landlord, Guinness Partnership’s health and safety team are working closely with East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to decide when it will be safe for residents to return to their flats to collect their possessions.
“Everyone’s safety is paramount in this assessment and decision but as soon as the details are confirmed this will be communicated with residents directly via the Guinness liaison staff, the council team and via all local and digital media channels.
H”otel accommodation – bed, breakfast, and dinner – was secured for Saturday night until and including Tuesday night for all residents who need it. Guinness Partnership is working to arrange longer term accommodation. The council is supporting Guinness with this work.
“As is the procedure in any fire, an investigation into the cause has already started. Senior staff from East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Guinness Partnership and the council will meet early this week to share initial findings and take any immediate action.
“A public meeting for residents will be arranged shortly after.
“We’re working with local residents and the Guinness Partnership to ensure that the Edge Community Centre remains open to support residents today and Tuesday 10am – 3pm and an assessment will be made whether there is a need for this to continue later in the week.
“Guinness Partnership will remain in daily contact with residents for the foreseeable future. This will be confirmed along with all other support later on Sunday. Anyone needing help can call the @YourGuinness helpline on 03031 231890.”
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