Dragon Steven Bartlett plans ‘money school’ for Grenfell community
Steven Bartlett, the multimillionaire Dragons’ Den investor, is planning a “money school” for the Grenfell Tower community to advise potential entrepreneurs.
The 30-year-old wants to offer free weekend workshops with other financial advisers after being asked for help by people affected by the 14 June 2017 disaster, which claimed 72 lives.
Many have been developing their own businesses and community organisations. Compensation negotiations in the high court, which involve 1,100 people from the Grenfell community demanding recompense from companies involved in the disastrous refurbishment, as well as the landlord of the council tower block, are also approaching their conclusion. The process could result in payouts totalling millions of pounds.
The fire adversely affected more than 85 businesses in the area, according to the Portobello Business Centre, and Bartlett said he became involved with people in the North Kensington community after meeting some of those involved with the football team founded after the fire, Grenfell Athletic.
“Entrepreneurship was everywhere,” he said. “I think every other person I spoke to wanted to start a business. Young people were pulling me aside and saying, ‘Would you mind coming down here and talking to us about money?’”
Bartlett said: “Some of them have been given some money in the wake of the tragedy for various reasons, and they had reached out to me asking for me to hold a workshop down at Grenfell. I’m helping them understand tax, savings, investing and all these kinds of things.”
The move from the investor comes as the Grenfell community awaits the conclusions, likely later this year, of a public inquiry, which has heard damning evidence of government failures to regulate the construction industry and how companies that made the combustible cladding knew how dangerous their products were.
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Despite being part of one of the richest boroughs in Britain, North Kensington, where the 24-storey tower is located, is one of the most deprived areas of the country, according to the government’s index of multiple deprivation. Bartlett, who grew up in Plymouth and was expelled twice from school, said he wanted to “help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds learn about money in a way that I didn’t when I was growing up”.
He has already been advising Bobby Ross, whose father, Steven Power, died in the flat they shared. Ross co-founded Our Power Hub – a community-interest company initiative that helps support residents living near the tower with free access to events, activities, and services, including technology, music, sport, fitness, art and group therapy.
Bartlett presented Grenfell Athletic with two minibuses, donated by Mercedes-Benz, which will be used by local groups, including Mind Utd FC, a football team for people struggling with mental health problems.
“He’s going to get more involved now and try and help us grow,” said Joseph John, 31, a chef who runs Mind Utd and escaped the fire through a window with his partner and child. He wants help creating a community kitchen and said Bartlett would advise on how survivors should best handle compensation payments when they come.
The next of kin of people who died in the fire have already received payments from funds raised in the aftermath of the blaze by the London Emergencies Trust and other organisations, according to Charity Commission records. People who were seriously injured and each household in the tower and in neighbouring Grenfell Walk also received payments from fundraising initiatives.