By Julia Gregory
A bereaved family whose severely disabled mother died in the Grenfell Tower disaster are challenging “watered down” personal-emergency evacuation plans which they say could leave thousands of disabled people at risk.
Shah Aghlani’s mother Sakina Afrasehabi, and his aunt Fatemeh Afrasiab, 59, were trapped and died in the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017. They were among 72 people killed in the tragedy.
There was no personal-emergency evacuation plan (PEEP) in place for 65-year-old Mrs Afrasehabi, who was partially sighted and needed a walking stick.
Now her family are appealing for help to raise £5,000 for a legal challenge to make sure plans are created for all vulnerable people who live in high-rise buildings.
Mr Aghlani said: “It would have made a difference. If these had been in place on (the night of the fire) people’s lives would have been saved.”
At least 22 people who lived above the 10th floor in the tower had disabilities.
He added: “This could affect a lot of people in the future.”
In an online crowdfunding page set up by the Aghlani family, they say “her death was a tragedy foretold”, and that a PEEP would have alerted firefighters to her disability.
Mr Aghlani told the Grenfell Inquiry, sitting this week, that his mother had asked Kensington and Chelsea council for an accessible home. He said he was worried when she moved to Grenfell in 2016.
“I was concerned at it being a high-rise, and the absence of a fire escape, particularly as my mother had numerous serious health issues as well as mobility problems,” he said.
“With her mobility issues she would not be able to get out or escape with ease.”
The family are fundraising to fight Home Office suggestions that only homes with Grenfell-style aluminium combustible cladding will need PEEPs for residents with mobility problems.
They said: “Sadly, the Government, having committed to implement the Inquiry’s recommendations ‘in full’, has proceeded to water this recommendation down.”
“We think this is a flawed and misleading ‘consultation process’ which will not lead to any meaningful change for disabled tenants if allowed to proceed.
“Our lawyers wrote to the Home Office before the close of the consultation process, pointing out its flaws, but they have refused to change it.
“We have therefore instructed our legal team to issue proceedings to seek permission for a Judicial Review.”
Recommendations from phase 1 of the Inquiry said owners and managers of every high-rise block should draw up evacuation plans who may not be able to leave without help. And it said PEEPs should be included in premises information boxes that would also include building plans.
The Aghlani family said: “Nothing can ever bring our mother back, but we are committed to bringing about deep changes for all disabled tenants, so that others don’t have to suffer the heartbreak and injustice we have been through.”
They need to raise at least £5,000 by mid-November “to protect us from having to pay the Home Office’s legal costs if our challenge fails”.
A GoFundMe page has been set up here.
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