Grenfell Tower: 6 Years On
Today marks six years since the horrifying fire engulfed Grenfell tower, a housing block in London. The fire spread rapidly through the tower due to flammable cladding, resulting in the deaths of 72 people. The tragedy exposed significant gaps in the fire safety regulations for tower blocks in the UK, triggering a nationwide awakening about the critical issues regarding social housing and inequality. Today and every day we must remember those lives lost, the survivors’ resilience, and the conversations the tragedy started.
Penny Appeal were among the first responders at Grenfell in the hours after the blaze broke out. We provided air conditioning to the rescue centres and emotional support to families desperate to be reunited with their loved ones. We coordinated the provision of over 3,000 hot meals as well as non-perishable food items, blankets, and other necessities. We also prepared Suhoor meals in the street for Muslim survivors and volunteers as the fire took place during the blessed time of Ramadan. We were joined by numerous other charities and organisations as well as members of the community who simply just wanted to help. It was inspiring to see the collective efforts of so many.
Following the fire, there have been numerous inquiries and investigations to uncover the cause of the catastrophe and seek justice from those accountable. Six years on, so many questions remain unanswered from those grieving loved ones. As the building still remains in a state of disrepair, covered with a large green heart, the future of the plot is unknown. The government have pledged to ensure the space is used as a lasting memorial for the 72 who lost their lives, but with the survivors all at different stages in their recovery, a decision may still be years away. For some, the tower continues to cast a shadow over their lives; for others the tower provides comfort and memory for a loved one.
The tragedy caused an outcry for safe social housing across the UK, and social class inequality was at the forefront of the message. How were people not safe after being socially housed? And why six years on are 131 buildings still standing with the same ACM cladding that was proven to have accelerated the blaze at Grenfell tower? In a recent report, the government revealed that the true number of buildings with flammable cladding could be closer to 11,000. The aftermath of the fire leaves sadness and collective anger among many communities across Britain. People came together to fight for better living conditions for the working class and minority ethnic communities.
Although the Grenfell tower fire is still far from forgotten, there has been some progress made in terms of fire safety. Sprinklers are now mandatory in taller buildings and a new Building Safety Act was introduced last year.
Penny Appeal stands in solidarity with the survivors of the heart-breaking fire as we believe that everyone has the right to a safe place to call home. We will continue to respond to emergencies all over the world, never forgetting those who need us at home. We’re supporting initiatives in the UK throughout the year because we believe charity always starts at home. Click here to take a look at some of the projects we’re running in the UK right now.
Despite evidence of neglect, and arguably a decision to choose profit over human life, there has still not been a charge for the deadly inferno. It is clear that Grenfell tower leaves behind a community still searching for answers. In times of adversity, the true strength of humanity shines through, and the aftermath of Grenfell tower was no exception.
WEDNESDAY 14 JUN 2023