Grenfell: One Year On

I wish I were posting on a brighter note but my affinity for dates means that this isn’t the case. Death is always around the corner and that was no more apparent than on the 14th of June 2017, when over 72 lives were claimed in an inferno that swallowed that building whole for 60 hours. Today marks the first anniversary of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire in West London and it still makes me sick that lives were needlessly lost. Lives were lost because some suits decided to cut costs on development by adding flammable cladding to a tower block in order to make it less of an eye sore. Really? Less of an eye sore? In a city that is full of cranes and new builds that people cannot afford to live in? Okay people.

To put this in perspective for you, before Grenfell happened, I had just returned from a bloody stampede in Turin where a 38 year old woman died from her injuries and over 1,000 injuries occurred. I was in bits; I came home with blood on various items in my possession. I wasn’t trying to see any tragedies immediately. Then the incident on London Bridge happened on the same day as my 25th birthday (which is also when the stampede happened). I woke up around 1am on the 14th of June last year and saw fire on my Twitter feed and on the news. I thought it was a bad dream and fell asleep again. I woke up to find that it was no dream.

I feel sick every time I think about what happened and a lot of people around the world still feel the same way. The lack of accountability has been abysmal and although I have my reasons as to why the government and media don’t care, I won’t pull the card. At the end of the day lives were lost and I feel that with hindsight, it wouldn’t have happened. It doesn’t matter whether they were black, blue, white, yellow, green or whatever… people died. And yet people think about the cost of rehousing the survivors, putting them up in hotels, helping them get their lives back on track. It’s not a fiscal issue even if money plays a part in survival in this world, it’s a humanity issue.

Humanity is funny because when people were flicking their lights on and off in that tower block for help, no one responded. When a young girl tweeted that her flat was engulfed in flames, people were goading her on Twitter. It wasn’t until people were jumping out of buildings that these “humans” realised there was a problem. My heart goes out to the emergency services staff that came to the scene and tried to save as many people as possible. I know that these people are prepped for situations such as this, but no one will ever forget that day or the fallout from it.#

The tragedy of #Grenfell hit me harder than anything else I’ve ever experienced in London. It wasn’t like it was done by terrorists or a natural disaster – it was as a result of negligence from those at the top.

Teresa May is a joke of a prime minister and it beggars belief that someone that wanted to remain in the EU has basically been handed power of this country and is spearheading the leave negotiations. Her incompetence shows when she refused to interact with any of the affected families of the Grenfell fire, yet her peers such as Jeremy Corbyn (you’ll probably guess my political stance but I couldn’t care less) were frontline, hugging victims, talking to them. He made some of those people feel like human beings, not like they should be quarantined. I feel like you lose nuances of humanity as you go higher up in power and status, but again that’s a discussion for another day.

That tower block was probably the most affordable housing for a lot of people in North Kensington. When you think of Kensington, you think affluence, middle to upper class, you think “how much does it cost to live there” yet people’s lack of empathy is telling in the fact that most of the victims are working class citizens who come from ethnic minorities. Now I’m gonna play the race card and I will trump it with the class card. These government suits are so narrow minded in the sense that cladding is so common yet it has not been banned in the fallout of this.

 

There are still tower blocks in East London, in the Midlands and various other locations all over the UK and yet they have been sluggish in removing them. The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) who were responsible for the tenant management have handed back the contract and are still functioning as an organisation. Remember that they publicly came out and said that they could no longer guarantee services to the required standard and yet no one is being reprimanded for the horrific incident that still weighs on the London skies like an ash cloud.

Showing solidarity with those that lost their lives seems to be an extreme sport in our society. Imagine using resources (that cost money) to light up buildings to show “solidarity” with those that died and those affected as opposed to using that money to rehouse the families that are still alive. It makes too much sense for the government to do but they’ll persist with the lights, the minutes of silence and other things when there are men, women and children that still need to be housed. A black tube driver was lambasted for stopping the tube in order to pay his respects to the fallen with a green fabric to signify #GreenForGrenfell, a move which was lambasted by the usual suspects on social media. These are the same people that probably rip into Manchester City and England winger Raheem Sterling for being young, black and living the dream. Shocking? Nope.


Heads needs to roll, but it is very unlikely that we will see justice for the fallen. The numbers of those that passed have been manipulated for the sake of damage control; nobody wants to see part two of the London riots that occurred years ago. Even that feels like it happened yesterday. We live in a selfish, self-serving society where people would rather hide behind others and save their skin than take accountability and have the balls to say that they messed up.

I am not perfect; I didn’t rush to help anyone affected by the fire. I didn’t volunteer my time and services to those that needed it. Maybe I was scared, maybe my anxiety disorder kicked in as I was still reeling from what happened in Turin. But I will keep the energy I have displayed in this post and I will continue to help people when I can. Above everything else, being a good person is important to me and I try so hard that I’m tired. But this isn’t about me.

 

This is about the people with power in this country. If the people that had power did more to help those still reeling from last year, who knows what position they’d be in today? If the people responsible for building that tower didn’t use flammable cladding (what a joke) those people would still be alive. Housing regulations might have changed and councils might be removing cladding now but it is still not enough. Furthermore, I would even go as far as saying that this might have been a planned accident in order to facilitate social cleansing (think of the wide spread gentrification we see daily in London).

The Grenfell tragedy still weighs heavily on the brains of many Londoners and Mancunians alike as both cities have seen loss in recent times. Both incidents have seen considerable media coverage but in the case of Grenfell it is still not enough. People still need to be rehoused properly, as in put in homes that can accommodate their families.

Today is a sad day. But I take pride in seeing Londoners and people all over the world show solidarity with those lives lost and those still here today. The survivors must feel a wave of different emotions to this day as this could easily have been prevented. Maybe one day they’ll see justice, but until then I pray that those lives lost may rest in peace.

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June 14
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