A year ago today the country woke up to the news of the shocking fire at Grenfell Tower.
In the post I wrote later that day I described how, even from those very early pictures and news reports, I felt sure that this was a preventable tragedy. The images brought back some extremely sad memories of the fire in Lakanal House near where I live. Six people died in that fire, including a family I knew. They all died following the advice of the emergency services who told them to stay put and wait to be rescued.
Similar advice, combustible cladding, and the lack of fire-safety procedures seem very likely to be implicated in the seventy-two deaths caused by the Grenfell fire.
Today my thoughts are with the people of Grenfell, the families who’ve lost loved ones, and the community in North Kensington that’s shown enormous resilience in the face of such overwhelmingly tragic and unnecessary loss of life.
I’m in Wolverhampton today, speaking at a conference called People, Place, Power. After my presentation we’ll be holding a minute’s reflection for Grenfell.
I won’t be doing a #dailyoutburst today – instead I’ll post in memory and celebration of all the lives lost in Grenfell, and in Lakanal.
This time last year I ended my post by saying:
“What happened at Grenfell Tower is not an isolated tragedy: it’s the result of the systematic degradation of social housing over the last decade and more. It’s a sad reality that in situations like this disabled, elderly and young people are more likely to be amongst the victims. A great number of children all over the country will go to bed tonight in homes that are overcrowded, unsafe and unfit for human habitation. None of us should rest until this has been changed.”
A year on I’m repeating this call because many people are still living in unsafe homes. As the Grenfell Inquiry continues I urge everyone to hold this government and all our politicians to account until this situation improves.
We mustn’t forget the horror that unfolded in Kensington in the early hours of a June morning, and we mustn’t take it for granted that this horrific tragedy will lead to safer buildings. We have to make sure it does.