The fire that destroyed Grenfell Tower happened just over a year ago. With many lives lost, a community survived. I would say it’s a community that is stronger than ever, but that would be to understate the lack of choice in that strength. And that, inevitably, it would have been a lot stronger without the tragedy that occurred on that day. I was born and raised in London, and although Grenfell is not in my area, whenever I pass by that burnt building, it’s a painful reminder that makes me think of my own neighbourhood. A good few of my mates, family friends, people I love, live in flats just like Grenfell. For all we know, the cladding on those buildings could be bust too. It’d only take a spark, an innocent accident to find out.
In keeping with this thought, I wonder what it would feel like to walk past the building everyday. Luckily, I only have to witness such a cruel sight when I’m in the area – if I feel upset, I can just go home. The people who knew the victims, those that live nearby, the survivors: they don’t have such a luxury. They have to walk past a shell of a place that was home to so many on a daily basis. It’s a constant reminder of what has happened; a constant reminder of what also has not been done. If you go to Grenfell, you can see how members of the community have done their best to make the area feel once again like a safe place, with small personal memorials lining the surrounding streets, dedicated to those who lost their lives. Flowers, murals; you can really see the heart of the people who lived there. Yet nothing has been done about the building itself.
Murals are beautiful, and I’m sure they are comforting, but this won’t change how people can still imagine the flames when they look at the building.
How can people grieve in peace when the tower still looms so threateningly? There are still no concrete plans or date set about what is going to be done with the building. I’m sure it’s a controversial issue but for me, the fact that nothing has been done really speaks to how the working class is treated in this country. It’s been a year and nothing has been done, and to be honest, it’s because the government does not care enough. It is not their priority.
Grenfell Tower is, I believe, one of the most significant things to happen in my lifetime, and it’s something I will never forget. Until effective changes occur, I won’t stop talking about it and people will not stop marching every month. We cannot rely on the government for our closure, our hope. We have to rely on each other. Being from South London, I’ve been taught that whether you’re from an estate or a massive mansion, we have to look after each other. At the end of the day we’re all people; we all see and experience real life everyday.
The number of stabbings across London is on the rise – nothing seems to be stopping it. Three of my friends from school are already in prison just as a result of growing up unlucky, growing up trapped in a system that seems to work against them. And the people of Grenfell, a beautiful community from all walks of life that truly worked together as a family, were rewarded by being burned to death. Without much of an apology. Without being given a new home, a new chance. Without being told what is going to be done to make it right.
The people of Grenfell are people to aspire to. In even the darkest of times, they find a way to be positive and keep fighting.
All of us, Londoners or not, should follow this. At first I thought I’d end this saying that we are ALL Grenfell. But then I realised that I still have a home and my family, and I don’t have to see the place my loved ones died on a daily basis. And we should remember that distinction: although we will never truly understand the pain the community surrounding Grenfell has been through, what we should all do is keep on doing whatever we can to create closure and soothe this pain in any way possible, starting with the family mentality of the Grenfell community.