On Thursday, we, the survivors and the families of the bereaved of the Grenfell fire, gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral for a service of remembrance to honour our loved ones and find hope and strength in each other.
Six months have passed since we lost so many of our family, friends and neighbours in the inferno that swept through the Tower on that June morning. Yet, for many of us, a second trauma is only just beginning, made worse by the prospect of spending our first Christmas without our loved ones.
This is a hard time for us, made more difficult by the fact that many of us remain without a home, our lives on hold. That’s why we are so grateful for the continuing kindness and support the public has shown.
The tragedy has exposed grave injustices and official neglect. But it has also shown the generosity and compassion of the British people. Your support continues to sustain us as we fight for justice. Seeing the nation respond so well yesterday created some hope for many who have felt so lost amongst the anxiety of uncertainty.
As we mark this sad anniversary, one of our greatest priorities is to ensure the memory of those who passed away lives on. The tragedy affects each of us in different ways but something that is a common among the bereaved and survivors is our wish that the land of Grenfell tower become a memorial to the loved ones we lost.
So today, we Grenfell United – a large group of bereaved and survivors – are repeating our request for the land of the tower to be handed over to the community for a memorial garden.
This site is more than a site of a tragedy for many. It is a burial site. And for many of the bereaved uncertainty about what will happen to the land adds to daily anxiety.
The land needs to be a lasting memorial for the community and those who lost loved ones in the fire must be part of the process of the memorial design. We hope our wish for a memorial to loved ones and a special remembrance garden for our community can be granted.
Shahin is chair of Grenfell United, a group of survivors and bereaved. He lived on the fifth floor of Grenfell Tower