Residents of tower blocks wrapped in combustible Grenfell-style cladding are turning to drink and drugs and suffering bouts of depression and suicidal feelings, research suggests.
Tens of thousands of people – many first-time buyers – are living in 166 privately owned tower blocks where remedial work has yet to be completed, 22 months after the Grenfell fire claimed 72 lives.
There are no plans in place for 71 blocks, according to latest government figures reported by the Guardian.
In a snapshot survey answered by nearly 200 owners in 21 buildings, 127 people told UK Cladding Action Group (UKCAG) that their mental health had been “hugely affected” by the cladding problems. Overall, 160 complained of stress and 50 said they had sought medical help as a direct result of the situation.
Another 75 people said they had turned to alcohol and seven people to drugs as a result of the stress, while 17 people said they had had suicidal thoughts or feelings of self-harm.
“These figures reveal nothing short of a mental health crisis among residents of these buildings,” said William Martin, a member of UKCAG. “The threat of financial ruin combined with the safety fears that come from sleeping each night in a building which is known to be unsafe is ruining lives.”
The housing secretary, James Brokenshire, said he understood the “anguish faced by those who continue to live in buildings with ACM cladding” and said the government was “looking at a range of new additional measures to get building owners to do the right thing and get on with it.”