3 Years On From the Grenfell Tower Disaster: A Community Still Struck By Grief14 Jun 2020
Today marks the third anniversary of a night that many in the North Kensington community are still coming to terms with and recovering from. The fire that lasted for 60 hours, led to 72 deaths and 74 hospitalisations and was the worst residential blaze since the Second World War.
With Covid-19 still being present nationwide, many have moved to pay their respects online with politicians posting video messages in a virtual service hosted by the Bishop of Kensington. Churches will also toll 72 times in remembrance of those that lost their lives and various tower windows will shine green lights from their windows in solidarity with the people who are yet to claim justice for the events of that night.
Over 250 fire brigade fighters and 100 ambulance staff were mobilised at the time, trying to contain a fire that was caused by insufficiently structured and flammable exterior cladding on the building. The inquiry launched by Theresa May a day after the event confirmed that the exterior of the building did not comply with building regulations and was a central reason as to why most of the building was engulfed in flames in so quickly.
It also reported that the fire brigade service was too late in telling residents to evacuate the building and had systemic failings itself. It found that the “Stay Put” order maintained by the fire service that night led to people staying in their homes long after they should have evacuated the building.
The current pandemic has also stalled the second phase of the official inquiry into the disaster, due to investigate the wider implications of the cladding scandal. It was suspended in March but is set to resume in July.
Boris Johnson announced earlier that he was “working to make sure it never happens again.”
The Labour Party reported however, that around 56,000 people are still currently living in residencies that have the same flammable cladding as Grenfell’s.
Keir Starmer said that “three years on and there’s been little justice or accountability.”
Many of the victims still feel like they have been left behind by the government, and that there are still huge steps to take to make sure compensation has been given, and future disasters are avoided. Even 3 years on, tens of thousands of high-rise residents across the country are still living and raising their families in buildings that are similar to Grenfell. The government found that it would cost around £15 billion to remove the cladding from these buildings nationwide.
The failure and inefficiencies of the government in handling the crisis, many will think, plays directly into what is currently happening in the country right now, with the manner in which they have responded to the coronavirus and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. The demographic composition of the Grenfell residency is also significant, with ethnic minority groups being disproportionately affected by the fire.
BLM protests happening nationwide today will ensure that the victims haven’t been forgotten, and that what happened in Grenfell shouldn’t be a microcosm of a system that leaves behind its minority groups.