‘We don’t want people to experience the same pain we did’: survivor of Grenfell Tower visits Salford residents being forced to pay for new cladding

  • The Northern Quota interviews Grenfell fire surivor at Salford Quays event
  • Meeting to raise awareness of plight of residents in dispute with buildings' owners over who pays for new cladding
  • Event coincides with second anniversary of the Grenfell fire tomorrow

Members of Grenfell United, the campaign group created by survivors of the Grenfell fire disaster, visited residents in Salford in solidarity over a row over who pays for new cladding on their apartment blocks 

The visit to the NV buildings in Salford Quays, on the eve of the two-year anniversary tomorrow of the Grenfell fire, was to raise awareness of the plight of thousands of residents across the UK who are being forced to pay for their homes to be made safe.  

Powerful messages about fire safety were projected onto the affected buldings, where residents are in dispute with the buildings’ owners over who is responsible for paying for new cladding.

NV buildings
The NV buildings in Salford Quays which has similar cladding to that at Grenfell tower

While the government has released more than £600m to help those with the dangerous Grenfell-style ACM cladding, those with different types cladding or fire safety issues are being left to foot the bill. 

The residents of the NV building in Salford Quays are in this position.

The Northern Quota spoke to Tiago Alves, a former resident of Grenfell tower and campaigner for Grenfell United, who was present at the event.

Tiago, 22, was sat watching TV on the 13th floor when the fire broke out. He grew up in the tower from the age of nine months old and plays a key role in Grenfell United.

Tiago Alvers
Tiago Alves, a former resident of Grenfell tower and campaigner for Grenfell United

NQ: Thank you for talking to us at the Northern Quota. Do you feel the attitude to fire safety in the country changed and has enough been done following the tragic fire at Grenfell?

“The attitude to fire safety in this country has changed but it has not been implemented.

“After the fire at Grenfell there was the Hacket review. This brought up a range of issues with the building regulator. Up until this moment it has not been implemented.

“There have been some funds put in place by central government firstly that has not gone far enough as that was only allocated to ACM cladding. 

“This is just a small part of the problem.

“We need the government to stop pretending they are doing something; something has to actually be done so people can be safe in their homes.”

NQ: Do you feel Grenfell and the subsequent fire safety issues are signs of an endemic issue with fire safety?

“These issues are purely cultural. There is a cultural problem in the building industry of trying to cut corners. 

“For many years the construction industry has cut corners especially around fire safety. That has created an environment where something like Grenfell can happen again.

“If we don’t address that in the next few months or years then something like Grenfell will just happen again. We will be questioning why did nothing change?”

NQ: Inside Housing reported that Hyde Homes, a social housing provider conducted the most stringent fire assessment on its towers blocks and found all 89 had faults of some sort and remedial work is underway. Do you think all other building owners should follow suit to ensure safety on high rise and high-risk buildings?

“Yes, anything that can be done to prevent this (Grenfell) happening again is crucial.

“We don’t want people to experience the same pain we did. I think all buildings do need that level of risk assessment

“There needs to be a massive cultural change within the building industry to the point where cutting corners is not an option anymore

“It is a failure of everything. Without that institutional change it will very difficult to get anything done.”

NQ: What has led to the massive delays in getting this situation resolved almost two years later?

“Brexit has a part to play, I have been told by some of the civil servants in government that if it had not been for Brexit then this would have been resolved by now. Brexit has dominated the news and government agenda.”

NQ: What would you say to the new conservative leader and PM?

“The most important thing that needs to be done is a change is the building regulations.

I feel like that can only happen after phase one and two of the Grenfell inquiry have finished followed by the criminal investigation.

“Only when they realise that something like this will become criminal and the regulations change, will that be enough to scare the building industry into not cutting corners and will stop them putting themselves in a position where something like Grenfell can happen again.”

NQ: Is enough being done to make building owners carry out checks and fix these issues?

“I have been told that the government have started to test other materials such as HPL (high pressure laminate). Hopefully, something will come out of that and we will find out what other materials are flammable.

“It does not make a difference if it is ACM or non-ACM. If it is flammable it is flammable. We need to put people in a position where they are able to make a change and if testing is required to get that then that is what we must do.”

NQ: How important is Grenfell United and the work being undertaken to get justice for the victims and survivors of Grenfell?

“Things can only change after a disaster. We are hoping Grenfell does not just become a memory but becomes a legacy. It needs to be the point where building regulations change.

“That to me is the most import things. 72 people died in that fire and if nothing changes then they will have died in vain. 

“I know me and other survivors, other families and representatives of those that have passed away will continue fighting until the very end to make sure that things do change and Grenfell becomes the turning point where Grenfell become the point where people feel safe in their homes again.”

  • Visit the Northern Quota tomorrow for analysis of the cladding issues in Manchester and what needs to be done to resolve the crisis. 
  • Additional reporting: Danielle Rowe