Grenfell Tower, a 24 multistory building in Kensington, West London, which housed a large number of residents, now remains as a carcass of what it once was. When the news alert appeared on my phone, initially notifying me that a fire had broken out in a block of flats with 6 people dying, my heart sunk. It was difficult to digest that there were more tragedies occurring especially since the Manchester bombing and the attacks that had happened in Borough Market, Vauxhall and London Bridge not too long ago. Do not get me wrong, there are unfortunate tragedies occurring all over the world and yes, individually, they are all extremely sad. But when those tragedies occur close to home, it becomes even more difficult to digest.
I grew up in a council property in North London and when not at University, still live there with my mother and younger siblings, and the scale in which this tragedy unfolded continues to make my eyes swell up. I cannot stop thinking about what the families who lived in Grenfell are going through. I cannot stop thinking about those who have lost their lives and how their friends and family are coping. I cannot stop thinking about those who are in hospital receiving treatment. I cannot stop thinking about the friends and family who are agonizingly waiting to find out if there are any survivors left. The death toll is rising and it breaks my heart to watch the reactions of the community of Kensington on the media voicing their frustrations knowing how hard they tried to let the Government know that they did not believe their housing situation was safe.
We live in a society where there is a massive divide between the poor and the rich. We live in a society where our political stances are so divided that we do not even currently have a real Government formed in place. And this is truly worrying. Forget about Brexit for a moment, we need to do better as a collective. It is shocking that our own PM – Theresa May, has been a total coward, running away instead of spending time to visit the victims and truly show the nation what strong leadership is. She rambles on in her one-sided TV debates telling us that our country needs a strong and stable leadership, yet a national tragedy happens and she runs off. It is shocking how she cannot answer a question without diverting. I watched a recent interview of hers talking about the incident and there was just no empathy shown. This is not a personal attack on Theresa May, but I truly do not believe she has shown herself to be a fit leader especially in times like these. What kind of message does that send to the people? If the Queen, the Prince, Jeremy Corbyn… even Adele… if they could visit and take the time to speak to victims and the community, are you really telling me that our own PM could not? Yes, she may be trying to start investigations on what happened but I really believe that she still could have set aside time to meet those impacted.
The reality is, many tenants in the Grenfell Tower continuously wrote to the council numerous times about the property and their voices were dismissed. £10m was used to apparently make the tower safer in terms of its cladding. To learn that the whole building was up in flames within a matter of half an hour or so is truly shocking. It has been reported that had an extra £5k been used for better materials used on the property, the devastation may not have been at the scale it is currently at.
A lot of these private sector organisations care about profit and there is nothing wrong with that, but not at the expense of peoples lives! This is not acceptable and I cannot believe that for a country that is so developed and one of the richest nations in the world, that a tragedy could actually happen on such as scale.
I will not for one, be surprised if a riot occurs. I don’t think riots are the best way forward, but there is too much pain. Who would have thought that in 2017, we would have people in high positions making decisions and cutting corners just to save money. It is heartbreaking. I am angry and at the same time so sad for these people who are potentially some of the most poorest and vulnerable people in our society.
I hope after all this that the people’s questions are answered. I hope that people who contributed to this disaster are held accountable for their actions and that the survivors are rehoused and looked after.