The mother of a firefighter who took his own life last year believe he was a target of racial discrimination at his station.
On August 26 2020, Jaden Francois-Esprit was found hanged at his home in Wapping, east London just three weeks after his 21st birthday.
His mother, Linda Francois, has told an inquest she believes her son took his own life after being discriminated against because of his race while training at the Wembley fire station.
Ms Francois said Jaden was singled out for being the “only person of colour”.
She also said things got worse for her son when he asked her not to prepare home-cooked Caribbean meals for him as he felt uncomfortable about talking to his colleagues about it.
Ms Francois told the inquest that Jaden “felt he was being unfavourably singled out because he’s an ethnic minority.”
She described how Jaden had applied to transfer to another station but was told he had to wait eight months because he was still in training.
She added: “He hated working at Wembley and accused his crew manager of bullying him. As a family we believe Jaden had every intention to go to work on August 26; he prepared his uniform.
“Perhaps the thought of sticking it out for another eight months was unbearable. I don’t think he knew calling in sick was an option. The anxiety got too much and he couldn’t face going back, even for one more day.”
Ms Francois described her son as “practical and confident” and that “he wanted to feel worthy”.
Jaden’s sister, Kelela, also told the inquest how he had told her that his colleagues “make comments about me”.
Station commander, Daniel Johnson, told the inquest he only had a limited amount of interactions with Jaden, adding that he wasn’t aware of any bullying or mistreatment towards the 21-year-old.
“He was exactly where I expected him to be,” Johnson said. “He was doing well, from what I have seen. He said everything was fine. He’s quite a quiet-spoken guy, very polite, smiling a lot.
“I have never heard of any incidents of him being picked on, bullied or singled out… Everything I’d seen gave me the indication that the watch is well run and well managed and bonds well together.”
Jaden’s family have set up a fundraiser in his memory which you can learn more about here.
The inquest continues.