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Scilly 'provides sanctuary' for Grenfell family


A family who lost five relatives in the Grenfell Tower fire have become the first to visit the Isles of Scilly as part of a free respite holiday.

The Chaer-Yemlahi family, who live opposite the gutted building, are among the more than 300 people helped by charity Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, which 'gathers one week pledges from holiday-home owners in Cornwall to give firefighters and Grenfell residents the hope of a holiday'.

Adam, 5, was the 300th guest to go on a free holiday, which included a day trip to the Isles of Scilly. As his ambition is to become a pilot, the Skybus crew gave hm a special tour of the aircraft.

The family, who lost three young cousins and an aunt and uncle in the fire, also went out in a kayak and visited St Agnes.

In a piece from Scilly on yesterday's ITV West Country News, Aziza Chaer-Yemlahi, 12, said of her visit to the islands: "You feel like there’s no place happy anymore but here has given me more faith and hope because it’s a very nice place and it's happy and people are so nice.

"It's the opposite of London. It’s very noisy and polluted there and here is fresh and very quiet. It's safe because you know nothing happens here because everyone knows everyone."

Cornwall Hugs Grenfell founder Esme Page said it was the first time tourism businesses on the islands had donated travel and experiences to families affected by the tragedy.

She said: "We’ve got nearly 250 people waiting, including about 40 or 50 survivors from the tower. So we really value the support that’s coming forward. When you look around here, as a sensory antidote to what they’ve experienced you couldn’t find somewhere more peaceful, more like a sanctuary."

Mum Touraya Chaer-Yemlahi said her children had "needed a change of scenery" and she needed peace, while daughter Salima revealed that her holiday was "so fun", she was "forgetting what happened".

The charity's website says that over 250 Grenfell Tower survivors, close neighbours or firefighters have enjoyed a holiday to Cornwall through the project, including more than 20% of all tower survivors. More than 250 accommodation providers have pledged accommodation and over 140 businesses have pledged support.

This year, more than 75 guests have already visited Cornwall and many more are booked in for holidays, with a further 150 waiting to be placed.

Esme said that more accommodation providers are needed to help meet the demand of the project, including large providers who can offer "5-10 family units for set weeks in 2018 so that we can create more group holidays".

Anyone seeking more information or to pledge support is asked to visit https://www.cornwallhugsgrenfell.org.

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