Grenfell community to come together two years on from blaze

Grenfell survivors and families of the 72 victims will come together and remember their loved ones two years after the tower block fire.

Friday marks 24 months since a small kitchen fire in a west London high-rise turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War.

Bereaved families will gather for a memorial service at the nearby St Helen’s Church in the morning, which will set the tone for a day of remembrance.

Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist and Grenfell survivor Leanne Mya will sing during the service, which will also be attended by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and fire minister Nick Hurd.

Afterwards white doves will be released, and later there will be a private gathering by the tower where survivors and bereaved will lay wreaths.

Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the fire, said it is important to stand together and continue campaigning because “we want to make sure the general public understand that the issues of Grenfell are still happening today”.

He told the Press Association: “Our plan is to come together with the rest of the community and be with each other, share some tears with each other, smiles with each other, and put our arms around each other and remember our loved ones and pay our respects.

Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the Grenfell disaster
Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the Grenfell disaster

“We also want to be a presence to everyone else, show them that we are still here and we are still standing strong together, dignified, respectful, we aren’t going to go away, we’re not going to fade away and we’re not going to let others forget our loved ones and for us to be swept under the carpet.”

For just over a year the building has stood surrounded by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” emblazoned across the four highest floors.

The community will soon vote for representatives to sit on a commission to determine its fate.

Legal responsibility for the land will be handed over to the Government later this month.

From early evening on Friday, a multi-faith vigil will be held in the area surrounding the high-rise, followed by the silent walk that has taken place on the 14th of each month for two years.

Like last year, it is understood that survivors and the bereaved will not do interviews on the day of the anniversary.

Yvette Williams, a co-ordinator of campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell, said there was an atmosphere of heaviness in the community following a series of setbacks, including the public inquiry’s first report being delayed and the news that any criminal charges will come after the probe has concluded.

People are “increasingly feeling a sense of injustice, rather than a walk to justice,” she said.

She told the Press Association: “For us the anniversary is always focused on the 72. So you kind of think, what have we really done for them over the last two years, how many steps towards justice have been made?”

She added: “I think foremost in people’s minds will be: 72 dead, still no arrests, how come?

“And I think that people are seeing almost a two tier system. We have had prosecutions – we’ve had loads of them, and they’ve been the opportunists and fraudsters that said they lived in the tower and claimed public resources.

“The major players … we’ve heard a few people have gone in for questioning, they’re roaming free.”

Staff at Kensington and Chelsea Council will also gather at the town hall to pay their respects.