“There had been a positive change in the area, an election win that the North of the borough had achieved. I had been up for numerous days and nights in my efforts to work for this and was very exhausted. I went to bed and then woke up in the early hours and realise I had forgot to put the rubbish out.
I do not recall what time it was, but when I went out to the bins in my back garden, my sleep-deprived mind thought it was playing tricks on me – but did I really see Grenfell Tower on fire? Did I see people or debris falling from there? Did I hear lots of noise? I was so over-tired – it was impossible to know.
I went back to bed, thinking “oh, you’re just seeing things” and slept. In the morning, I was woken up by friends phoning me up saying “Grenfell Tower is on fire” and asking after friends there.
I just bolted out of bed in shock, and ran out of the door and round the corner, to see the burning ember of a building where some of my friends lived. Some of this I don’t remember in the right order, but do remember running down the street in various directions, going into the then very crowded Rugby club, Harrow Club and Latymer Centre and attempting to ask for my friends to no avail. I recall being in tears and dropping my keys just outside my door and bending down to pick them up only to find someone shoving a camera in my face – guess they just wanted a picture of a “grieving local” or something.
I went home. The scenes outside were now virtually apocalyptic, with helicopters constantly going, huge crowds in quiet residential streets media everywhere and at least five news vans parked in my little street alone.
I remember receiving some calls and messages to know that some friends were alive – but were now homeless. I even put on the television to check that I hadn’t gone completely mad and that this was really happening. There were people I knew personally in my neighbouring streets, being interviewed on the live news.
Most of that day and quite a few days afterwards I can only remember in patches – sometimes you don’t want to know where you were when you hear that friends and neighbours needlessly lost their lives and you just go “why?” – but I don’t think most people can relate to living by what is a disaster zone and losing many friends and neighbours like this.
The one positive thing I saw from day one was the sight of many good people from our community and beyond, donating things , bringing practically everything you can think of here. I remember a family trying to get me to take some of the food they had cooked – but I certainly wasn’t up to eating anything.
As days went past, it got easier when the media presence in the area lessened but more personally difficult to hear of friends missing or deceased.. There were also people I just knew by seeing them around regularly and some I also remember chatting to in the street. It doesn’t feel real or right to then see them on a missing poster or hear that they passed away in the Tower.
Some of us would just burst into tears and wail in the middle of the street or randomly hug each other – we just cared about our friends and neighbours and to hell with what anyone else thought.
I had night terrors about it for ages and even had to replace a mattress after constantly wetting the bed – which sounds ridiculous for a grown adult.
It was around a week later when my shock also took on anger and a huge rage took over me and I had trouble containing it. There is also a memory of me walking miles without any purpose – it ended with an unplanned visit to hospital after falling over and no, I have no idea of how or why I walked to North London.
These days I get by throwing myself into my work and not stopping. I’m very proud of my community which came together to support each other and ashamed of a council and a system that condemned so many innocent members of them to death. If something you can do can make any sort of difference, then it is the least you can do.
Now it feels as if there is a charred shell of the Grenfell Tower where once peoples’ homes and families’ lives used to be and also this huge empty space in our local community and sometimes you walk down the road and almost expect to see someone walking their dogs or doing their shopping and remembering the children’s play area outside Grenfell Tower and you know those people, young and old, men women , children – are not here anymore.
If people from outside do not exactly understand why a close-knit community has become closer than ever – let me try to explain – the way that some relatives and friends still act towards me : many still do not know how to speak to me – it’s almost as if there is a line that some are afraid to cross -“don’t do this or say that in front of her” and you just want to be treated as a normal human being. I do not blame them of course – it is just that some do not simply know what to do or say.
Today still, all my friends who survived are still living in hotels, there are some mysterious “Grenfell command” Police who do not appear to be accountable to anyone guarding what we all around here regard as a crime scene, the council are still in charge and they appear to be propped up by the Government purely for party political reasons.
Most of us here will never forget what happened and we intend to hold our local authority and government to account over this. We will always remember many in our community who lost their lives in a needless and entirely preventable disaster and myself and many others here will not let anyone ever forget.”
💚💚💚💚No justice, no peace💚💚💚💚