Following the fire at Grenfell Tower, Hammersmith & Fulham Council has joined forces with local community groups to get everyone involved in planning and supporting residents in the event of an emergency.
Community organisations, faith leaders, tenants’ groups and local businesses from across the borough teamed up in a ‘hackathon-style’ event at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday 19 September.
More than 100 people put their heads together to start drawing up a plan on how they’ll work with the council, fire and police services to prepare for major incidents.
“In Hammersmith & Fulham, there’s a huge sense of community responsibility,” said the council’s Deputy Leader, Cllr Sue Fennimore. “One thing the Grenfell fire told us was that all councils need better co-ordination with local community organisations when there is a major incident. This event was all about listening to each other, learning the lessons and planning the best way to work together.
“People from all walks of life are incredibly generous and ready to help when their neighbours are in trouble, and we need to recognise and support the many organisations who make our community so strong and compassionate in a crisis.”
The event had been planned before the recent terror attack at Parsons Green, in Fulham, where 30 people were injured by an explosion on a tube train.
Tina Martin, of Hammersmith-based charity Action on Disability was one of those who attended the event. She said: “It's great to see Hammersmith & Fulham being proactive about these things, and not simply waiting for an incident to happen. The event helped me realise as a local resident all the planning that goes into these things and it reassured me as a representative of a Disabled people's organisation that the whole community was being considered in responding to any such incident.”
The event also included providers of advice and therapy services, major hotels and conference centres, the borough's three major football clubs, and logistics organisations.
The feedback from people who came to the event was that they really valued knowing how they could help and whether they should concentrate on mustering volunteers or helping with interpreting services or providing transport.
The ideas it generated will now go towards developing a community emergency plan, to support the council’s disaster management and give residents and organisations the opportunity to play an important and co-ordinated role.