Traumatised children scarred by Grenfell Tower fire 'desperately need counselling', parents plead

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Traumatised children who witnessed the Grenfell Tower fire are in desperate need of counselling, worried parents claimed today.

Youngsters at the west London estate beside it have been drawing disturbing images of the tower in flames and  waking in the night, they said.

Mother-of-two Beinazir Lasharie, who sits on Kensington and Chelsea council, has revealed the struggles of dozens of children from the Lancaster West estate who saw the inferno. “My son still speaks about it and my two-year-old wakes up at night screaming and crying,” she said. She added that her son, three, has “been drawing the fire and talking about smoke and I don’t know what the long-term impact is for them. I went to the doctor and asked for help but it’s a waiting game.”

Ms Lasharie, 37, her husband Damon Deiches, son Liban and daughter  Aaliyah are living in a Knightsbridge hotel after they were evacuated from their flat following the June 14 blaze. 

Ms Lasharie, who has  been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, said: “A lot of my friends have got children who witnessed it. We were all evacuated at 3am when there was a fear the tower would fall. All of our children saw the fire when it was at its highest.”

Her children have been referred for counselling but are waiting for a date to see a specialist.

Her friend Ishmael Francis-Murray, 35, who lives on the same estate and grew up in Grenfell Tower, said his sons Elliot, eight, and Kalel, four, have been forgotten about by local authorities.

He added: “My kids are struggling and people are not taking it seriously. My children are not going to bed, they are drawing pictures of fires.

“They are asking me questions like ‘daddy, how you feel that your friends are dead?’ They are misbehaving.”

Latest figures show that 500 people have been referred for mental health assessments following the fire,  including nearly 100 children.

A spokesman for the Grenfell response team said mental health and emotional support has been offered to “all those affected by the fire”,  through the NHS and the Red Cross.

The spokesman added: “There is a walk-in service at Parkside Clinic, where families can be seen immediately. We are also providing events and activities across the area for young people, which we hope will make a difference in time.” NHS outreach teams visit the estate on a daily basis and health workers are also offering drop-in counselling at hotels.

Campaigner Peter Tatchell said a minute’s silence at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival will be a “fitting tribute” to the Grenfell victims. Up to a million people will come to a standstill at 3pm on Monday August 28.

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