Church donations and community support in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy

In a world in which fear and terror are now part of everyday conversation it is an uncomfortable realisation that donations to victims of senseless and avoidable tragedies are becoming increasingly common.

Recounting the events from the early hours of Wednesday the 14th of June 2017

In a world in which fear and terror are now part of everyday conversation it is an uncomfortable realisation that donations to victims of senseless and avoidable tragedies are becoming increasingly common.

However, it is perhaps more shocking when an immense tragedy strikes our shores and it can only be described as a terrible accident and of which the repercussions reach far beyond the direct victims, their families and those in the communities.

It was at around 1.00 am when the emergency services attended a call to the Grenfell Tower Block, Kensington, West London. The tower block was home to hundreds of people occupying some 129 flats, across 24 floors. It is believed that the blaze originated in a flat with a faulty fridge-freezer and it had spread ferociously -aided by the external cladding used on the tower block – which had reportedly failed safety testing. However, until a formal investigation has been conducted it is hard to say with absolute certainty the exact cause of the fire and the contributing factors that lead to such devastation.

Acknowledging the efforts made by ALL in the wake of such heartache 

The emergency services, chiefly the London Fire Brigade, battled valiantly against the blaze into the early hours of the morning and beyond. Moreover, without hesitation and with a single minded ambition to the rescue the injured and free the trapped they threw themselves into the inferno.

Subsequently, the aftermath saw them recovering those who had been trapped in the building and offering further assurances to the public that they would not give up hope of finding more survivors ,despite the odds. Tragically, it is being reported that at least 80 people are thought to have been lost in the blaze, although this number is yet to be confirmed whilst the recovery effort is still ongoing.

There will be memorial days, there will be candle light vigils  and ultimately calls for accountability to determine the cause of these shocking events.However, rather than attempt to foretell the future, it is more appropriate to reflect on the ways in which the people came together and how the Church was at the heart of much of it, as it served as both a meeting place and a hive for relief activity. 

The aftermath of the tragedy saw local communities nationwide come together, united in their collective grief and shock.  The victims benefited from a great generosity which saw people opening their homes to the tired and homeless, with children donating their toys to offer comfort to those children suffering the consequences of the disaster.

Welcoming those in need on their own doorsteps

There are numerous examples when looking through reports of the local churches placed at the centre of comfort and prayer. However, a few stories of churches within the immediate vicinity of the Grenfell Tower earn a notable mention in this discussion.

St Clements Church in Notting Dale was inundated with donations in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. It lay witness to grieving families and members of the public as they attended mass and made donations of food and clothing to the victims. Additionally, several politicians including Jeremy Corbyn and Teresa May reportedly visited the church to offer their own condolences and  assurances  relating to the handling of the response effort which was already underway.  Through a collective effort and the opening of doors the local churches warmed hearts during a time of confusion and anger they had touched on something more than a call to worship. It demonstrates a basic human desire to show compassion and solidarity , so often forgotten in modern society.

Meanwhile, in Notting Hill similar events unfolded at St Francis of Assisi Church crowds  gathered to dispense food and water to those in need. Samantha Cameron, wife of former Prime Minister David Cameron, was seen amongst their numbers. As  volunteers continued to migrate to their churches the donations continued to offer provision for those in dire need.

The decision made by communities to walk out onto the streets on mass transcended all cultural and social divides – it was for everyone. Church donations allowed volunteers to fulfil the most basic needs of those seeking basic comforts at a time when the needs of some where most prevalent.

Reflecting on what has come to pass…

In what has been described as a ‘Blitz spirit’ by some,the Church at large found itself at the centre of the local community in Kensington and its surrounding borough. Moreover, it has continued to  serve as a point of refuge beyond the immediate wake of the events as people are still trying to come to terms with the events of these recent traumatic events.

It is hard to place the value on church donations and equally the generosity of all in involved cannot be questioned. Ultimately, the effort was a collective, as people of all ages, race, traditions and gender found themselves welcomed into arms of the Church and in return their church donations provided for those in dire need.

The repercussions of this event are far reaching and will prove to be lasting and it is likely that church donations, community support and charitable organisations will continue to find themselves called upon as families attempt to rebuild their lives and make sense of the events that have unfolded.

Recently, the Grenfell Tower enquiry has commenced and it’s aims have been summarised by the presiding judge, as he begins the long task of bringing together all available evidence in order to make a judgement. We can only hope that their is accountability for those involved and that lessons are learnt for the future.

We work closely with churches throughout the UK and beyond and recognise how much charitable and valuable work they provide to their communities day in, day out and we have the up-most respect for the dedication they show whenever they are called upon.