University of Bolton spent £1m on blaze-hit students

Bolton fire Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption The blaze at The Cube in Bolton took more than nine hours to bring under control

The University of Bolton spent more than £1m helping students forced to flee a block of flats hit by a major blaze.

Fire ripped through The Cube in November leaving about 220 students without somewhere to live.

They were each given £500 in cash as well as free accommodation and food.

The university requested more cash than the banks had in stock, vice-chancellor George Holmes told the Local Democracy Reporting service.

"Many of the students didn't even have their own bank cards or their own credit cards. They were still in the building.

"Even their basic clothes, cosmetics and toothpastes were still in the building", he said.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The fire started on the fourth floor, owners Urban Student Life confirmed

He said the university made sure they all had a bed for the night and hot food, adding that the university paid for some to stay in hotels for up to three weeks.

"When we went to the bank on Monday morning and asked for just over £100,000 in actual cash, which the banks didn't have in stock, we had to get that money ordered and organised.

"So every student got £50 on the first afternoon and the other £450 when the banks got enough cash."

The government has refunded much of the money to the university.

Image copyright GMFRS
Image caption About 220 students lived at The Cube in Bolton

Assessments were suspended for those affected, around 50 new laptops were ordered for them, and counselling support was provided.

Student union president Ansh Sachdeva said some students are still recovering from the distress they experienced.

He said every student "takes different time to recover" but "I'm glad to say that most of the students are doing well".

Mr Holmes said although the students were renting from private landlords, he felt that "morally" the university's reaction was "the right thing to do".

The university is hoping to recover some of its spending from insurers.

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