Residents on the Lancaster West Estate, site of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, are hoping to create a local newspaper to help those affected by the tragedy keep up-to-date with new information.
Chairman of the Lancaster West Residents’ Association, Olesea Matcovschi, said the idea of printing a paper followed the devastating fire two weeks ago that has so far left 79 dead or missing presumed dead.
She said plans were still “in the early stages” and called on journalists to help with the project by volunteering their skills and knowledge. A printing press is also being sought to produce the paper.
The residents’ association runs a website providing information from local community leaders and groups (grenfellsupport.wordpress.com) with plans to take this content and put it in print with the help of an editor.
The association’s website is separate from that of the anonymous resident blogger who posts on the Grenfell Action Group website.
Matcovschi, who has lived on the estate for two years and was elected chairman of the residents’ association at the start of June, said the proposed paper would “reach out to the community to let them know what’s going on to provide updates and relevant information about which services are available and what help they can get”.
She added: “Many people they don’t feel that there’s enough information provided.”
She said they wanted to launch a newspaper because not everyone uses the internet.
The former City University Students’ Union president said she hoped the paper would launch “as soon as possible”. If it goes ahead, she said the paper would “serve the interests of all residents” of the estate in North Kensington – equal to about 800 households.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has a population of 160,000, has only one dedicated weekly printed title covering news in the area: the Kensington & Chelsea News, owned by Capital Media Newspapers.
Press Gazette understands the paper’s only reporter also covers at least two other boroughs and their separate titles – a result of stringent cutbacks within the local London press following declining revenue from advertising and newsstand sales.
Former local newspaper reporter for Kensington, Grant Feller, told Press Gazette he believed the fire safety concerns of Grenfell Tower residents would have found a voice in the local press in the pre-internet era.
Matcovschi said of press coverage of the estate prior to the tower fire: “There were many concerns raised by residents regarding fire safety and worsening living conditions on the estate by many residents for many years but they were neglected.
“We didn’t have anyone really approaching us before the fire, it’s only after the fire that Lancaster West Estate and Grenfell Tower attracted attention from the public.”
She added: “There’s not so much local media anyway, so that’s why we have to arrange our own local newspaper for Lancaster West Estate residents.
“I think it’s something that we needed and that we still need so that’s why we decided to run our own newspaper so we are working on it now.
“It’s very important because it will provide clear communications with residents and it will strengthen the community links and community spirit.”
Asked whether she would be recruiting journalists to work on the paper, Matcovschi said: “If we get some support from journalists we would definitely be looking at this.
“At the moment our priority is to provide relevant updates to our residents so they know which services are available to them and where they can access them from.
“At a later stage we might take interviews from the people and share stories.”
Email lancwestRA@gmail.com if you are able to volunteer to help.
Picture: Google Maps