There’s been a second house fire on the Wirral today. My mate was round yesterday telling me that there’d been a house fire round the corner from her where two people had died. They’d had no smoke alarm and only the passing plod who called the fire brigade had noticed the smoke pouring from the house into the night.
Now, the next night, there’s been another round the corner from me. Two people rushed to hospital while the fire in their kitchen was tackled by three fire crews.
They only came out to check my smoke alarms a couple weeks ago, I’m grateful for that and with the cuts they’re facing this must be a difficult time to do an already dangerous and difficult job.
My mates got PTSD so she relates really strongly to tragedy like this, she couldn’t stop saying “what if that had been me?” Tragedies like this, especially with a loss of life, wrack communities and tend to bring about a sense of solidarity. But this one hit me pretty hard too, not just because it’s on my doorstep.
Last week when I got off the train from London, I was waiting for a taxi outside a pool hall. It was pissing down and freezing cold and it was taking ages because of the rush hour demand. This woman sidled up to me with an umbrella and said hello. She commented on the weather and chatted to me for a bit when she slipped into conversation, “any odds?”
She was waiting for someone in a car, of course she was. But she was happy to chat to me so I chatted back. The first thing she said, bursting was pride was that she was about to be a grandma for the first time. Stuff like that always gets me. Then she told me that she sleeps outside the Liverpool shop on the square because her house burned down.
She’d put crumpets in the toaster and they’d caught fire when she fell asleep. She had found herself, five weeks ago, sleeping rough for the first time when the landlord shrugged her off.
The dole won’t give her anything without a permanent address. The housing find her the odd night here or there but most days she tries to get £16.40 for the YMCA. She was really lovely, you know. She looked clean and warm but the idea of having to spend even the odd night on a doorstep in this weather is just heartbreaking. I gave her £2, it was all I could afford.
This time I can’t help but think, what if that was me? What if they end up like Angela? Who is going to help them?
I know a lot of people spend a lot of time in Liverpool Facebook groups organising and delivering donations and company to homeless people. The community in Liverpool is very strong and has a big heart. But what they need is stability, and who is going to help them to get that?
The council NEED more property. Less property for the wealthy and more affordable housing for the poor. They need to be pressured to use the property they already have, whole streets lie empty up here, all over the place.
Out of the fire and into the street. Love to the families of the victims of both these fires, I hope our communities step up to support you through this tragedy.