‘Everywhere I Look’ by Mrs Murray

Mrs Murray was a resident of Grenfell Tower. Thankfully, she and her family made it out in the early hours of that morning. Mrs Murray has written a powerful poem, and she’d like for us to share it with  you.

Everywhere I look
They can’t hold us down when we stand together,
we march in silence no matter the weather,
no matter the season,
We stand United,
together for a reason.

No, we’re not savage and no, we won’t scrap.
We’re smart,
you know we already know the hap,
The 411;
what’s going on.

You want us to act out dumb
so you can paparazzi that and show us to be wrong.
Try escape your fate, try deny us justice.
Do you really think we’re gonna have this?
Do you think that’s gonna fly?
Do you really think we’re gonna give u a bly?

When we gather in respect on these roads
that are scarred and coated by the dust of the bones.
The ones we lost, you could never replace,
you can see it from the mourned out looks on our face.
On our faces.
Different skin tones, all different types
but all of us, the human race.

How many of us have you left displaced?
Diaspora in our own land,
feeling like an outsider with my own brand,
Survivor chic donations old and new;
we are grateful for those who rode through.
The ones who still stand, forever we thank you.
We bear our scars inside and out,
Thank God from us who made it out.

‘Survive and rise’ is what is going on,
and if you try stop it, we will remain together strong.
We march together, in respectful silence.
Justice our quest,
And until it is delivered, none of us shall rest.
None of us shall play,
none of us will ever just get on with our day.
Forever changed from that day forward in solace,
as we are taunted by the memory,
we see the event on replay.
Behind our eyes, inside our minds.
Sometimes there’s a reprieve for a sec when I
see my kids play.

But then it rushes back and its back to that day.
Back to the start.
Back to hearing every beat of my heart.
Back to the stairs,
back to the fear,
my heart and feet pounding in my ears.
Pulsating adrenaline giving me strength
to carry my child and run with my fear.
Run for my life.
Run down the stairs.
Cant find the right door.
Can’t escape.
How can I see myself outside of myself
feeling so helpless this way.
Follow my husband.
He leads the way.
Those flashing lights.

The fire brigade are here,
I think it’s gonna be alright.
How horrific it seems,
how horrific it was,
that day terrorises my every thought,
my every day is blighted since that fire ignited
and consumed my home,
our homes, their homes.
Yet some of them lie,
some of them pretend and like to say
that this happened to them but it didn’t happen that way.

We are not the same.
I am not the same,
In myself I have changed.
I look for escapes inside every building,
literally every room.
Sometimes with my kids we pretend it’s a game
but it’s my way to keep us safe after this.
How can I not, after this happened to us,
not them I see.

It was my house,
wrapped in that plastic cladding like Lego
I see. I survived. I see.
Our lives are precious and priceless at least,
how can you justify a saving of 2 pounds
per square feet?
I guess we will see.
Well that’s what I’m told.
When the inquiry is ongoing,
life changed from when the fire started,
my life feels on hold.

Justice, I hear.
Justice, I seek.
Please don’t overlook or forget about those
who still breathe.
Caught up in the mele,
caught up in the scrum,
feels like they’re making me beg for a scrap or a crumb.
What did we do that warrants this behaviour?
I cannot breathe,
I am numb.

Not all have been housed,
some still in emergency accommodation,
AKA stage 1.
I’m in need of readjusting to community,
I’m in need of a place, in need of a house,
of some personal space,
some space of my own,
some respite,
a place to call home.
In need of some answers,
not just for the community from St Helens to St Francis,
but for those of us who survived this.

The reports seem like we’re settled,
I long for this to be true.
Do you know how this feels?
Has this happened to you?
Has this shredded your life?
Disassembled your mind?
Can you say that your trauma is like mine?
Can you imagine the sights?
The worst horror movie will never prepare
your eyes from seeing what was actually there.
But “return to work and pay bills and get on with life”,
What about the struggles, the scars the strife?

Can you imagine the firefighters now with PTSD?
This was their work,
they were prepared and yet still witnessed the worst.
How does someone cope with these facts?
These images that are forever embossed.
Whether or not I like it, my attention is engrossed.
Whisked back to the start
to the door knock, to the first.
Around we go in a loop I hope is not eternal.

Everywhere I look, I see that towering inferno.

Guest Writer Claire O’Shea writes about why she organised the Thanet Solidarity Events

On the 14th April 2018, I arranged Thanet’s first march in solidarity with the J4G team when I saw that Manchester had done the first. I wanted to be able to find a way to help and to continue the movement for justice but I didn’t know how so arranging a silent march allowed Thanet to be part of that support network.

I have to be honest, I didn’t realise how much it would affect me and pull me in as much as it did and still has today, you see I didn’t live in the area,  I didn’t know any of the victims or the community but I knew that if surrounding communities pulled together to show their support it would help to make a difference or at least help in some way.

Arranging the march meant I spent a lot of time making up banners, posters and leaflets to promote the march and try and get as many involved as I could. This meant a lot of time was spend looking at the photo’s of the victims and this is when it hit home. I had seen their faces so much that  I began to feel like I knew them. I cried a lot. For the victims, for their families and for what everyone was going through after. I lost a parent at a young age so I knew what it felt like to lose a loved one and this killed me inside because there were so many that lost families and friends.

As a mum of two and looking at the photos of those precious children that lost there lives my sadness quickly turned to anger and I thought right I’m going to do what I can to help, however small.

The first march was very moving. I didn’t get the turn out I was hoping for as I’d pretty much covered Thanet in Posters advertising the march but the ones that turned up still continue to supports Thanet with J4G and that support group is growing.

I learned from the first march that It wasn’t enough to do it on my own and I wanted the year anniversary of Grenfell to be a special event so I teamed up with local groups in Thanet that tackled racism and injustice. This wider network meant we were able to reach a much wider audience and the year anniversary event which we held on Ramsgate beach had a great turnout of over 70 people. I say a great turn out because to me the more people that turned up meant more people cared and were willing to do what they could help fight for justice as well.

We had  Andy Akinwolere an ex-presenter of Blue Peter say what it meant to him, we arranged for a local choir to sing some songs and the event was a  very moving tribute to the victims.

For me personally, some might wonder why I’m bothering to play as much of a part in the movement for justice now a year on, and to be totally honest it’s because I care. It’s with me now and I can’t turn my back on it. I feel I have a responsibly to those victims that I never met but feel in my heart like I have. My children aged 4 and 5 are aware to an extent of what happened and I also owe it to them to try and show what people sticking together means and what justice can come from it.

That tragedy shouldn’t have happened, those lives shouldn’t have been lost and the community shouldn’t have to feel that sadness for the rest of their lives. By communities getting involved in whatever way is needed will make sure that the Grenfell community know that we have their back and we’re here to help because we care.

By Claire O’Shea

Guest Writer, Local Resident Joe Delaney shares his thoughts with us

Our Guest Writer this week is Joe Delaney, Resident of Lancaster West Estate and representative on the Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee.

Here he shares his thoughts with us:

Whilst all of us in the area have heard the various organisations involved in the management and renovation of Grenfell Tower express their sorrow and sympathy for what happened. We’ve not heard a single one of them accept responsibility for the tragedy which has caused at least 72 deaths and upended the lives of countless others.

Week four of the Inquiry was when we first heard from some of the experts it had appointed; they spoke about the fire safety measures present (or not), the cause and origin of the fire, and its spread throughout the Tower. None of these experts spoke about blame or assignment of blame, but that does not mean that this hasn’t been happening already – it seems that there are plenty of armchair experts who know exactly who is to blame and oddly, their views do not match those find in our community.

A major target of blame so far has been Behailu Kebede from Flat 16; people who were not there on the night of the fire seem to think that they are in a better position to describe and condemn Behailu’s behaviour. They say that he had packed his entire household up without warning neighbours and that his carelessness lead to the fire spreading from his home to the rest of the building. Hopefully, such nonsense has now been dismissed once and for all – the witness statements of Behailu and other residents of Flat 16 as well as the CCTV evidence submitted show that neighbours were alerted and Behailu worked quickly to get the fire brigade to attend.

So this week gave the armchair experts another target; the firefighters. Let me be clear about something at this point; I do feel that the policies, procedures, training, and staffing of the fire brigade leave a lot to be desired but it is NOT within the power of individual firefighters to alter or override these and so I do NOT feel that blame lies with individual firefighters on the ground that night. For people to now say that individual firefighters and their actions that night are the cause of this fire is absurd; whilst the Fire Brigade and its policy makers certainly have a lot to answer for, the individual firefighters do not.

Evidence from firefighters will continue into next week, so I am sure we will no doubt hear more from the armchair experts who know so much.

Someone else who has recently had a lot to say about blame is Andrew O’Hagan in his piece The Tower published in the London Review of Books (LRB). Much criticism has already been levelled at the accuracy of this piece; numerous corrections has been made to the online piece and no doubt many more will be made in the weeks to come, but the damage such pieces can do to the morale of those at the centre of this tragedy cannot be underestimated. What I find most disturbing about O’Hagan’s work comes from the interview he gave afterwards for an LRB podcast, in which O’Hagan muses that perhaps we are all to blame for Grenfell. Whilst on the surface this seems a fairly innocuous comment on the state of modern society, it is an extremely dangerous position to take regarding the causes and consequences of the Grenfell Tower fire. After all if everyone is to blame, then it actually means that no one is – this would certainly suit the organisations and individuals in both the public and private sector who have a lot to answer for but it certainly doesn’t suit any of the victims.

This Inquiry is going to take a lot of time, money, and effort to complete; the police investigation is still progressing too. I would much rather wait until all of the evidence for both of these is public before making final decisions on apportioning blame – I just hope that everyone else feels the same as this will be the only way that we have a chance of ever seeing any justice for Grenfell.

By Joe Delaney

I lost my cousin and her daughter at Grenfell – and I’m shocked the Hackitt review has refused to call for a ban on dangerous cladding

By Clarrie Mendy, for The Independent

It’s been almost a year since we lost my cousin, her daughter and 70 other named persons in the tragic Grenfell Tower inferno last year on 14 June 2017.

From day one bereaved family members, survivors, evacuated former residents, local residents living in the shadow of Grenfell and the local community have had to fight for their basic human rights.

The silent marches spoke volumes. The petition for extra panel members was signed by over 150,000 people. But still people had to practically beg for mercy and compassion to be heard and see action implemented.

My cousin’s death among 72 people soon became a cause to champion in the pursuit of justice. I have converted my grief and anger to creative energy, which helps me to cope and battle on. To know that tenants and people had raised concerns for three years prior to the Grenfell inferno infuriates me. Lives could have been saved.

In my opinion, human rights were abused – and all of the families in that tower were given keys to live in inadequate housing.

Last week I went to Parliament to discuss this with Theresa May with other bereaved relatives of those who died. The narrative from the government seemed to have changed, and I was glad.

Theresa May then stood up in parliament and said she would spend £400m stripping dangerous cladding similar to that on Grenfell Tower from other housing blocks. I felt this was a sign that she had listened to us.

But today we’re back here fighting again.

Dame Judith Hackitt, who has written the report into the disaster, has said the government doesn’t have to ban the flammable cladding which led to the deaths of 72 victims, including my cousin Mary Mendy and her daughter Khadija Saye.

While listening to May in parliament, after meeting with her last week, I felt proud that she’d made this call on removing the remaining cladding. She’d been reminded and she knew it was her deed. The conviction with which she stood up and said it, I thought well done Theresa – you listened to us.

But now this report says something different. Dame Judith Hackitt – the woman who is saying combustible cladding can remain legal – I don’t know what planet she comes from. She’s definitely not a humanitarian, or thinking about the next generation. She should have a meeting with the Grenfell community and then she might have an alternative view after speaking to us.

I’m absolutely disgusted and totally shocked. It’s abominable, and very conflicted considering what Theresa May has been saying. This decision might be good for industry, but it’s not good for the environment or for the people.

We know the dangers of this cladding. I’ve got children and grandchildren. I’m not going to be here forever but they don’t need to witness another Grenfell anywhere in this country. I can’t understand the logic behind it.

If the government is trying to prevent these kinds of things happening nationally, why is someone promoting this poison to harm society and the environment?

We talk about knife crime, trying to keep the numbers down, preventing it from happening. The same logic should be applied to flammable cladding. It shouldn’t be allowed. We didn’t have the resources to prevent Grenfell, and now we don’t seem to have the means to ban these toxic materials.

The people who make the cladding – and the contractors – have to be made accountable right now. We cannot let this be a normal thing.

Prevention is better than cure. It has to be banned. The government has got more say, and I hope they have woken up and realised there are human beings. This was and is a human tragedy and we don’t need any more of this nationally.

We don’t need any more crematoriums in the sky, and no generation needs to witness this again. Let’s lead by example in Britain.

By Clarrie Mendy for The Independent

Hillsborough Law Letter – Press Release & Letter Copy

Press release
For Immediate release
11/05/18

Alison McGovern MP sends letter to the Prime Minister, urging support for ‘Hillsborough Law’ to assist Grenfell.

On Friday, Alison McGovern MP sent a letter to the Prime Minister, expressing cross-party support for ‘Hillsborough Law’, the Public Authority (Accountability) Bill, to assist the Grenfell public inquiry.

The letter comes with a reminder to the Prime Minister that she has ‘argued that it is priority for her government to tackle ‘burning injustices’ within our society and the Grenfell fire serves as a stark reminder that this issue goes beyond the suffering of the Hillsborough families’. There can be no injustice more cruel or painful than the experience of the Hillsborough families and that of the families of other victims of public disasters who have been treated in an appalling way by public bodies and by the legal system.

It is the hope of Alison McGovern MP and many others who have signed the letter including Andy Burnham, Len McCuskey, Professor Phil Scraton and Margaret Humphry’s, to make good commitment, support the measures contained within this Bill, and take a vital first step towards changing the culture by improving justice and accountability for public bodies in our country.

Whitehawk Ultras in solidarity with Grenfell

Our friends at the Whitehawk Ultras in Brighton dedicated their last game of the season to the victims of Grenfell and the fight for justice the community is facing.

They displayed the Justice4Grenfell Banner throughout the game, and at 72 minutes into the game, they held images of the 72 victims of the disaster up for a moment of silence.

On Monday 7th, some members attended the Dulwich VS Hendon FC game at the KNK Stadium, and again, they carried the banner, making sure their message was loud and clear – Justice For Grenfell.

We’d like to thank the Whitehawk Ultras for their ongoing support and solidarity.