Tributes to Red Cross as residents return to fire-hit homes
Published by RoyP for Sovereign Housing Association in Housing
Sarah Watts, a member of Sovereign’s West of England regional panel, hands over a cheque for £500 to Red Cross volunteers Andy Tye and Andy Beasley, who responded to the fire on 10 June
Residents who were evacuated from a north Swindon block of flats following a suspected arson attack have returned to their homes as tributes were paid to the local Red Cross for the support it gave during the incident.
A man has been charged with arson after the 10 June blaze at the Sovereign Housing Association properties in Luna Close, in the Oakhurst area of the town.
Seven flats were affected by the fire and 15 people, including five children, were forced to move out of their homes as a result. Now residents have moved back into four of the flats, while the remaining three homes will be occupied in the next few weeks.
Sovereign marked the return of the residents at an event on Tuesday (25 September) evening, when its regional panel for the West of England handed over a cheque for £500 to the local Red Cross. The money will be used by the Red Cross’s Fire and Emergency Support Service (FESS) for Wiltshire.
The regional panel is a resident-led group that works on behalf of other residents to improve the services that Sovereign provides. It has a budget to spend on projects or initiatives that benefit neighbourhoods where Sovereign has properties.
“It’s really pleasing to see residents returning to their homes. This was a really traumatic experience for them and it’s good to see their lives slowly returning to normal,” said Dale Evans, Sovereign’s Area Housing Manager
“Our regional panel wanted to express their gratitude to the local Red Cross, who responded very quickly to the incident, offered comfort to the residents and transported them to hospital. They were at the scene for three hours and played a really vital role,” she added.
Among those attending the event were Andy Tye and Andy Beasley, two Red Cross volunteers who responded so quickly on the night of the fire.
“They were brilliant,” said resident Kelly Morland, who has now returned to her flat. “They made us cups of tea and made sure everyone had somewhere to stay.” Kelly’s flat was badly damaged in the fire and she lost all her possessions except her white goods.
Nigel Townsend, FESS coordinator at the Red Cross, said: "The Red Cross responds to the needs of people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. However, we can only do this because of the commitment and hard work of our volunteers like Andy Tye and Andy Beasley, without whom we would be unable to support people such as the residents of Luna Close.
“It's fantastic that the residents are now able to return to their homes, and our heartfelt thanks go to the regional panel representing the residents and to Sovereign Housing Association for such a generous donation."
FESS runs in more than 40 counties across the UK. Using a customised vehicle complete with a shower, cooker, kettle and supplies, volunteers provide those affected by fire or flood with immediate temporary shelter. They are also able to provide first aid, clothes, food, toiletries and help find temporary accommodation and signpost people to other support organisations that can help.
For more information please visit: www.redcross.org.uk/FESS