Saturday, March 25, 2006

Well done Tessa Jowell

Today I got a letter from Tessa Jowell, who is the Minister with responsibilty for the aftercare of those involved in disasters! It was sent to all survivors on the 7th July Assistance Centre list.

Some people in Kings Cross United also got the letter, though not all of us. But Steve from KCU scanned it in and sent it round our private email system, so all those KCU survivors who are not on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport official survivor list at the present time could see it too, because in KCU we share information with each other.

In the letter Ms. Jowell expresses her 'heartfelt sympathy for you and all those who were caught up in the attacks on 7 July.'

She writes that she held a series of private meetings with the bereaved at around the time of the November 1st St. Paul's memorial service, and 'would like to extend a similar invitation to you as survivors.'
She acknowledges that 'the events on that day led to the loss of 52 innocent lives and resulted in physical injury for hundreds of people. A greater number again witnessed or were directly involved in the incidents and bear less visible scars from that day.'

She offers to meet us survivors in 4 seperate meetings ( one for each bombsite) , and answer questions, 'where possible' about the support provided by Government or to relay the question to the appropriate Government contact following the meeting. She says that the meetings will provide the Metropolitan Police with an opportunity to provide a progress update about the investigation. That staff from the 7 July Assistance Centre have also agreed to be present. And after the meeting, 'we will share a note of the discussion with you.'

Well. What a pleasant surprise! It's a rather good letter.

It is interesting that it took eight months to arrive.But it is just exactly what I have been saying I was hoping to hear! Isn't that just amazing?

The letter was dated 22 March, the very day before the enquiry evidence in which 13 survivors including myself made some important points in public . Points I had already placed on my blog, in the early morning of the 23rd, just before I went to the enquiry.

(I left the flat at 8.40am on 23 March to give testimony, publishing my notes at 7.06am)

I said stuff like this:

''I have worked out that I gave my details out eleven times at least, possibly more, but by 24th October I was still, apparently, not on an official Department of Culture Media and Sport list of survivors, and nor were many other passengers. This is staggeringly incompetent:

I and other people managed to climb out of a bombed train, find each other, look after each other, and now we have almost 100 survivors' names and details.We have executed a successful media strategy to tell people from our train that Kings Cross United exists, helped each other find counsellors, fill in compensation forms, find lawyers, medical help, dealt with hundreds of media enquiries,safeguarded ourselves from nutters and wierdoes trying to infiltrate the group,organised a 6 month memorial ceremony, set up a website, campaigned for a public enqury, liased with the police, all whilst holding down a day job and recovering from injuries and PTSD. And nobody has given us any funding: we haven't asked for it we did it all by ourselves, for free.

Meanwhile someone, somewhere has a salary or a grant and a job decription that is about looking after victims of July 7th. I'd like to know what they are bloody well doing, frankly.''

Here is an excerpt from the entry I wrote on 22 March, at 9.26am - the 22 March being of course the day the letter from the DCMS is dated:

''I feel fragile and sick and sad, so sad. And so angry; angry with those who let the bombs happen, angry with the political capital made out of the bombs, angry that though the Government talks of their 'concern' for victims and families and passes draconian laws citing how 'we' need them,

yet I have never heard of one member of Parliament visiting or writingto a victim of July 7th to ask how they are and to express sympathy.(And if you are a victim of terrorism abroad, you are lefteven more hung out to dry.)''

I'm extremely pleased by this fortuitous, and no doubt entirely coincidental official, yet personal response to the exact points I raised on the 22 and 23 March in this blog, the exact points that I and the other survivors raised in a public meeting, attended by Whitehall officials and the media on 23 March, being answered in the letter I and other survivors got today. It is, as I said, a complete - yet of course, welcome - surprise!

Well, well, well. I am personally extremely grateful to the Minister for getting in touch today and expressing sympathy - what a very, very, very good thing to have done after all these months - it has so much meaning for me. I shall certainly go to the meeting, and judging by the messages flying round KCU, so will a lot of other passengers - whether they actually got the letter or not.

Well done, Tessa Jowell!


Blogger R said...

Great news... but I thought you were taking a break from blogging??!!

March 25, 2006 5:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is good news but I dont for one nanosecond believe that it is a coincidence.

May I say that you have a strong presence on the web and have been very articulate in communicating the horrors of that event on July 7th. Because of this those in authority cannot ignore your publication.

Just a final comment, like a lot of others I cant help wondering if the bombs would have happened if we hadn't gone into Iraq.

March 25, 2006 5:27 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

*embarrassed* I know. I am supposed to be taking a break from pretty much everything as I have been signed off as ill
( bronchitis).But poor knackered J is asleep on the sofa, so can't put on TV, and I am completely bored, as I can't really go out. So I thought I would post a bit.

Seems I can't keep away. And it is raining. And I have read all the papers. And am bored with my novel

And, well, the letter was just SUCH a coincidence that I must share the very extraordinary good news that suddenly, someone official seems to give a stuff about July 7 survivors! Who'd've thunk it?

*falls on floor*

March 25, 2006 5:28 pm  
Blogger steve said...


Thank you so much for speaking and representing us at the London Assembly. I had no idea how much other peoples (lack of) aftercare contrasted to mine.

Thank you all, so proud of you!

March 25, 2006 6:25 pm  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

That really is good news, although, like others, I'm amazed at the timing.
It should go some way to restoring her shot-to-hell reputation. Anyway I'm glad she is now doing her job, thats the main thing.

March 25, 2006 6:43 pm  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

yes honey...what's happened to that break?!!

that letter's (why did i get 2?!) made my day...made it all feel worthwhile. at LAST they are listening.

and dated 22nd march...hilarious! do they think we were born yesterday!

so proud of everyone...well done! xxx

March 25, 2006 8:25 pm  
Blogger Ceridwen Devi said...

Tessa for PM! Then we can all get free Chianti on the NHS. Rachel, you obviously have some clout and influnce in high places. Keep up the good work, but maybe also put your feet up and take some sage and lemon tea for your bronchitis!

March 26, 2006 12:26 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

It wasn't me. It was everyone, speaking out, that is making it happen. 13 people gave testimony, more have and are giving written testimony, it is making a difference.

I am going to spend some time in Norfolk with my parents and this will be my last entry for a while as I am taking some time out. Love to you all xx

March 26, 2006 8:47 am  

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