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Duchess of Cambridge talks with Grenfell resident

4 January 2018

Leone Buncombe, David Allen, Eri Gebrai and Rea Rouse from RPT’s New Homes Team met with the Duchess of Cambridge in December, for an open conversation about the daily opportunities and challenges of supporting people from Grenfell’s community. Discussions were held away from the press and covered the New Homes Team and the recently launched Community Café.

Significantly, the setting also enabled the Duchess to hold an intimate conversation with Aalim*, a former university lecturer and surviving resident from Grenfell Tower.

Leone shares a little of their conversation together here:

“Aalim is a resident from the tower who lost his wife. There was a lot of emotion in the room as he met with the Duchess and shared his story. She was very much in listening mode and completely down to earth.

“Aalim was able to talk about the tragedy with clarity and humour, putting Kate at her ease throughout their conversation. He even made Kate laugh when he could see his personal loss had her about to shed a tear – because both Aalim and his wife made it out of the tower alive, but tragically she lost her life later due to the toxic smoke produced by the fire.

“Aalim shared how he’d spent the first two days after the disaster living in a hotel, but was then contacted by the council saying they had found him somewhere to live. So, on day five he found himself viewing accommodation with his son. On seeing the building he said, ‘I can’t live here, the sign above the door says for the elderly!’

“In his sixties, Aalim told us with genuine laughter that he wasn’t prepared for retirement living just yet and happily, he has now moved out of his temporary accommodation and into a regular flat, just up the road from RPT with three other Grenfell residents.

“RPT’s New Homes Team have supported Aalim over the last 6 months, not only financially with grants that have been paid to him and other residents, but as a real emotional support network. He has been open with us about his feelings in losing his wife and meets with us at RPT at least twice a week. He is a regular feature at the café and it’s clear that he appreciates the companionship in his new found ‘family’ at the Trust.

“Fortunately or maybe unfortunately for Aalim he has even had the chance to go furniture shopping with RPT's David Allen. Half a day and all they bought was a scented candle!”

*name changed to protect individual's privacy.