Some 221 students were evacuated from the university accommodation building after it went up in flames in November (Pic credit: Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service)
by LAUREN CODLING
MANY students whose housing was ravaged by a fire last month are “still struggling” with the aftermath of the blaze, a University of Bolton student representative has said.
The blaze, which ripped through a town centre flat complex dubbed The Cube at the University of Bolton on November 15, saw dozens of students lose their personal possessions.
According to reports, it took about 200 firefighters from 40 fire engines to tackle the blaze, which affected every floor of the building. Some 221 students were evacuated from the building, and although it caused no fatalities, two individuals were injured and were treated by paramedics at the scene.
Ansh Sachdeva, president of the students’ union, told Eastern Eye that a number of students were still “mentally recovering” from the fire.
“Some have recovered from it, but others are still struggling” Sachdeva said. “So many students have lost their personal belongings and seeing their home on fire must have been incredibly difficult. I imagine it is difficult to be in their shoes,” he added.
The students affected have been given several options – some were offered temporary housing in nearby areas such as Preston. Others were staying in private accommodation and local halls of residence Orlando Village, which is close to the university campus. Although he remained unsure, Sachdeva said he believed the Cube complex may not be reopened until late next year.
In order to support students, the university has extended deadlines for assignments and also offered them mental health support. “There are some mental health issues (for students),” Sachdeva, who is originally from New Delhi, said. “I know some are recovering well, but mental health support is required and has been provided.”
The university has a mental health clinic and counselling has been offered to students who have needed it. In the weeks following the fire, Sachdeva said counselling support was available “24/7” for those affected.
Following the incident, more than £20,000 was raised for those affected. An additional contribution of £23,000 will be made by the Greater Manchester Disaster Relief Fund (GMDRF) for students and non-students who were forced to leave their homes. Sachdeva said he believed the university had done “more than enough” to help students who have been impacted.
“It has been an overwhelming time for students, but I think they are very grateful for the support they have been given,” he said.
In addition, the university offered £500 to every individual from The Cube. Others have stepped up to support those affected too. Students who have had to relocate to Preston, and have to undertake a daily commute to and from Bolton, have been offered free travel passes by Northern Rail to ensure they were able to attend lectures.
“The general public’s response been amazing”, Sachdeva said. “Everyone has joined hands together.”
Commenting on the response of the public, president and vice-chancellor of the university, Professor George E Holmes DL, said everyone had been “humbled by the amazing and generous response from the community, both in Bolton and across the country”.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.