The September 11 UK Families Support Group (S11UKFSG) was formed at a meeting in London on May 11, 2002. This followed a meeting held in April 2002 organised by Disaster Action.
The September 11 UK Families Support Group (S11UKFSG) is constituted as an Unincorporated Association. The governing document is in the form of a Trust Deed and the initial Trustees were Tony Greene, inaugural Chairman (who lost his son-in-law), Jim Cudmore, Treasurer (who lost his son), Les Gilligan, Assistant Secretary (who lost his brother) and Jelena Watkins (who lost her brother). There is a Committee, which includes all of the above together with Alex Clarke, who is now Chairman (who lost her daughter), Tom Clarke, (who lost his sister), Hannah Ali, Secretary (who lost her sister) and Helen Cudmore, Assistant Secretary (who lost her step-son). Tom Clarke is the official spokesperson for the Group. Committee members are unremunerated. At the last review, the S11UKFSG had 285 members (including 38 children of victims) representing 66 UK victims.
The Committee meets monthly and there are Family Meetings (FMs) every three months. Some 30%+ of members live more than 100 miles from London, some in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the remainder live in London and the Home Counties, hence the concentration of FMs in London. To ease the burden of travelling for those members who live a considerable distance north and west of London, meetings in Birmingham or Manchester have been considered and in fact a very successful meeting was held in Birmingham on 17 May 2003. S11UKFSG is seeking to establish Local Groups for family members to meet more frequently and in less formal surroundings and a London Group is already well established.
The Committee circulates a regular newsletter to bring members up-to-date with S11UKFSG news and other matters such as memorials, financial assistance, etc.
A major source of funds for the S11UKFSG
was a substantial donation from the British Red Cross and
very valuable contributions were also received from the World
Trade Centre Disaster Fund, Cantor Fitzgerald, the Lord Mayor’s
Fund and the Welsh Congregational Church of New York together
with smaller donations from private sources. Risk Waters very
generously paid the venue costs for the inaugural meeting
held on 11 May 2002. The group’s main outgoings to date
have been reimbursement of members’ travelling and accommodation
expenses in attending meetings and the associated costs of
organising those meetings, printing and distribution costs
paid to a voluntary service organisation located in Eastbourne,
Professional Indemnity Insurance and one off costs associated
with counselling and the distribution to families of a limited
edition print “View over Brooklyn Bridge” gifted
to the families by the artist, Pip Todd Warmouth.
The S11UKFSG has worked and continues to work closely with
the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in relation
to remembrance services and memorials. The Service of Remembrance
and Commemoration held in St Paul’s Cathedral on September
11, 2002, the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in
the USA, was a very moving and poignant occasion and on September
11, 2003 there will be the opening ceremony and dedication
of the Memorial Gardens in Grosvenor Square, London.
The twelve-month period following the attacks in the USA
was for most families a time of trying to come to terms with
the horror of the attacks and the resultant trauma of losing
a loved one in such a dreadful and public manner. The constant
media attention both in newspapers and on television meant
that members lived with seeing the awful scenes of the attacks
over and over again and media activity became even more frantic
in the lead up to the first anniversary. The result was a
surge in requests from members for counselling assistance.
The S11UKFSG has been very active since its inauguration
in trying to bring families together to help them deal with
the trauma of the attacks and to enable them to share their
common grief. The next step is to help families deal with
the reality of their loss. Counselling for family members
has already been established and up until now, has been funded
by the Red Cross. It is believed that there will be continued
need for counselling over months or years to come.