Perhaps most shocking is the fact that Kensington and Chelsea actually has the highest life expectancy at birth for males, and second highest for females in the UK. There is a stark contrast within the borough – the area around Grenfell is among the top 10% most deprived in the country, and the inequalities in healthy life expectancy between those living in the tower blocks and the multimillion dollar mansions next door are the widest in the country.
I grew up in west London and spent time working as a junior psychiatrist in Kensington and Chelsea. On home visits to see patients in their council housing, I saw the destructive effects of poverty daily. Trying to make the best of their circumstances while exposed to crime and violence, struggling to feed themselves and their families, suffering from mental (and often physical) illness and sometimes using drugs and alcohol to cope. The outcomes in terms of life expectancy seemed dishearteningly predictable, but unnecessary.
Someone whose paid for by other people flat is renovated at a cost of £70,000 is not in what most of the world knows of as poverty.
That’s actually more than the lifetime income of around and about half of humanity…..