The sound and smell of fire consuming Grenfell Tower still hang like a ghost in the air to some of the residents of Grenfell and the surrounding houses and tower blocks, even a year after the disaster.
It was on the 14th June last year that Grenfell Tower was engulfed in the fires and smokes of hell, leading to the deaths of 72 people, with a further 74 having to go to the hospital. The victims were men and women, young and old, white and black. Their community being destroyed right in front of their very eyes. Everything they knew... gone.
Grenfell tower now stands as a sad reminder of the level of injustice in Britain today, a tomb to those who tragically lost their lives. In the richest borough in the country, 72 people died and hundreds are homeless due to the fact that over time local and national governments refused to put fire-proof cladding into these tower blocks built for the very poorest in society.
Although this shows a bigger picture of Britain. Because these people were not rich, their lives were seen to be lesser than that of there neighbours in the richer parts of Kensington like Notting Hill who earn an average £150,000 a year.
Although this is part of a bigger picture.
Grenfell Tower is situated in North Kensington, in an area called Notting Dale. This is right next to the far richer area of Notting Hill, a wall stands blocking off the richer Notting Hill, from the poorer parts of Kensington like Notting Dale.
The worst bit about this tragedy is that this was a preventable tragedy. Time and time again residents went to complain about the lack of fireproof cladding and sprinklers in the tower blocks, and time and time again they were ignored. A petition was created by the Grenfell Action Group to investigate the Kensington and Chelsea’s council’s handling of safety concerns. And what makes this all more ridiculous is that between 2014–16, £10 million was spent on the tower. Although no sprinklers were ever put in, and the cladding put in turned out not to be fireproof. Cladding was done in a way to make the buildings look more pretty, probably for the betterment of the richer Kensington residents. Residents were told it was done in a way to make sure any fire would not spread, the irony is that this didn’t happen, probably because the cladding turned out to be flammable. A 2009 coroners report said that all tower should have sprinklers, especially during refurbishments.
“At least 79 people are dead. It is both a tragedy and an outrage, because every single one of those deaths should and could have been avoided.” — Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party at PMQs, 14 June 2017.
Furthermore, 312 Tory MPs voted against a Labour bill that would require landlords to make all homes fit for human habitation. 72 of those MPs were landlords themselves, suggesting that some decisions made about the tower were based sometimes on party politics and personal self-interest and gain. Also since 2009, ten fire stations and over 500 firefighters have lost their jobs since, with a father of a friend of mine who is a firefighter having to be called in to help deal with the blaze. Then to put the cherry on the cake for the Tories, the Prime Minister Theresa May refused to go and see the victims, and only gave an interview after mounting pressure. Whereas on the other hand, the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn went and talked to the victims and their families.
Out of the mist and smog of this terrible disaster came solidarity from the public towards the victims and their families. Thousands of people have donated food, clothes and money to the cause. Many Islamic groups have also been vital, North Kensington is an area with a large ethnic and Muslim population. Muslims that were awake for Ramadan prayers were able to raise the alarm about the fire early. This disaster has brought people together in the most amazing way. These people are also backed by there new MP. After years of brutal Conservative rule, at the 2017 General Election, within the sweep of the Labour Party, Kensington went to Labour. Emma Dent Coad MP is a strong campaigner against gentrification, for housing rights and her blog is endorsed by the official Grenfell Action Group.
Grenfell Tower was a preventable tragedy. Tory Britain is unfair, corrupt and benefits the few, not the many. over four million children are now in poverty (30 % of child population). The amount of people in absolute poverty stands at just under 20% whereas the amount in relative poverty stands at just over 20%. Since the Tories first got into power under the coalition in 2010, food bank organisations have increased by 700%. Britain is unfair and unjust. Since the 2008 financial crash, a small group have got away with murder. Grenfell highlights this, the rich are protected, while the poor suffer.🔷
(This piece was originally published on The Blog!.)