In light of the terrible tragedy that to date has claimed the lives of at least 79 people, a local councillor from Longbridge spearheaded a donation drive with Northfield Fire Station.

The haunting images of the fire at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, on the 14th June, affected communities all over the country. This prompted Cllr Andrew Cartwright, firefighters from Northfield, local organisations and residents to come together and donate items needed for the victims when they set up new homes.

Northfield Fire Station has been used as a drop-off point for donations and yesterday (24th June) was extremely busy as items were organised in to starter packs. All of the parcels will be delivered by Cllr Cartwright and other volunteers to London at a future date.

Councillor Cartwright said: “Watching the news and seeing the horrific event, I’m sure made everyone reflect and fear that situation for their own community.

“The fear, choices and thoughts going through the minds of the residents would have no doubt been horrific.

“The challenge to the emergency call handlers, to give out life saving advice and reassurance to callers whilst listening to desperate pleas for help, would have been unimaginably chilling and I commend them for their professionalism.

“I can’t even pretend to imagine or even comprehend the frustration and sadness of the firefighters when they arrived on the scene. Prepared to put their lives on the line for the hardest of tasks, yet unable to reach all floors and do what they are trained for, to  save lives.

“In the midst of such tragedy, it was wonderfully inspiring to see a community in disbelief and not sure how to help find the inner strength to pull together and react by getting resources.

“I am extremely proud and knew that OUR community would make a difference and show the survivors that we care and were thinking of them.

“When I made the call to Northfield Fire Station, they welcomed the idea and totally supported the initiative. Despite the cuts to the force, still trying to safeguard communities.

“Over the past week people have been dropping items up to the Station and yesterday it was as busy as ever. I personally would like to thank the community for donating many new items, these will help the residents and contribute to the new home starter packs. The other donations of ‘used goods’ will also be donated / sorted between the appeal and the firefighters charity. Everything will contribute and make a difference.”

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Councillor Cartwright added “It was great to see all age groups donating and the words of one of the children who brought items out of her own pocket money said ‘At least they will know we care for them’.

“I am a Birmingham City Councillor who sits on the West Midlands Fire Authority, I am privileged to see and hear some of the truly great things our fire fighters do and face daily.

“I also feel the public service cuts to our front line services need to be re looked at as the impact to the staff, needing advanced equipment and more man power is life saving.

“Thank you to Richard Burden MP for supporting my initiative, who I’ve asked to challenge the cuts to all public services at every point where he can.

“Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you to the local businesses, community groups and residents who have come together to support and make this happen.”

Watch Commander Philip Richards said “I’m extremely proud of our local community in B31 and surrounding areas for the overwhelming generosity and the sterling partnership work by Cllr Cartwright”

If you have new items to donate, email andy.cartwright@birmingham.gov.uk

Cash donations can also be made to the Fire Fighters Charity to support the men and women who put themselves in harms way daily to keep us safe, donate here

And if you want to arrange a Safe & Well visit for your home, phone or pop in to your local station and see the crews.

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