One Month On: Why We Cannot Forget The Grenfell Tower Tragedy

Grenfell Tower One Month

One month ago, many residents of the Grenfell Tower went to sleep for the last time, not knowing they will not wake up.

The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on 14 June 2017 in a block of public housing flats in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London. With the building standing 220-foot-high (24 storey) the tragedy that took over the lives of the victims and their friends and family is still unbelievable and most definitely unforgettable. The disaster at Grenfell Tower was a result of the long term failure of successive Governments to invest in the quality of life within social housing.

As more information was revealed about the cause of fire and reason for so many tragedies, it became clear that the tower was unsafe to live in – yet nothing was done. A blog post from 2016 revealed that residents of the tower were aware of the huge fire risk but management refused to act.

In a formal certificate issued by the building inspectors’ organization (Local Authority Building Control) it was stated that the insulation chosen for the refit costing £10m was acceptable for use on tall buildings only if it was used along with fibre cement panels (which do not burn), however combustible polyethylene filled panels were instated on top of synthetic insulation. This insulation was made from polyisocyanurate, which burns when exposed to heat as well as giving off toxic cyanide fumes – the reason for the death of so many blameless residents.

Within hours, churches, temples, community centres and other public buildings showed their support and began doing what they could in order to open up safe spaces for those affected. The response of the public was amazing – we saw thousands volunteering and donating clothes, food, money and their personal time to help those who had lost everything. Event organizers even put on specialist in order to raise funds… but what have the government done to help?

In the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (London’s RICHEST Borough) over 159 social housing flats stand empty – that’s one more than enough to house every single one of the 158 families who survived and were affected by the fire. One month on… most of these residents are still living in hostels and hotels. Not only having lost all their belongings but also their neighbours, family and friends. In the days after the tragedy, ‘Prime Minister’ (if any of you still call her that, lol) Teresa May said that the residents of the tower would be rehoused within three weeks at the latest. Speaking at the Mayor’s Question Time on Thursday, Sadiq Khan said that four weeks on, not enough has been done for the Grenfell survivors. The deadline for the rehousing of these families has been missed and next to none of them have found permanent accommodation.

Police have revealed that while 80 people are currently presumed to have died, the final toll will not be known until at least the end of the year. Westminister Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said on 12 July that only 34 of these victims have been identified.

One month on, no explanation or apology has been given as to how and why such a tragedy occurred in a Borough with so much money and ability for prevention. One month on, it is extremely clear that a long chain of multiple weak links and negligence led to this tragedy. One month on, there is no less pain for the victims, no less fear and no more faith in the political system.

 ‘Yeah, I don’t know where to begin
So I’ll start by saying I refuse to forget you
I refuse to be silenced
I refuse to neglect you
That’s for every last soul up in Grenfell
Even though I’ve never even met you
Cah that could’ve been my mum’s house
Or that could’ve been my nephew
Now, that could’ve been me up there
Waving my white plain tee up there
With my friends on the ground trying a see up there
I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there
I can’t feel your pain but it’s still what it is
Went to the block just to chill with the kids
Troubled waters come running past
I’ma be right there just to build you a bridge, yo’ 

– Stormzy, Bridge Over Troubled Water.

1,2,3,4,5,6 months on… We can NEVER forget this tragedy and we must not stop helping those affected by the events that tragically took away so many lives. Despite the numerous attempts to sweep this under the carpet, we urge that everyone continues to do their part and fight for justice for the victims.