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After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response

After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response

A study into the responses of faith groups to the Grenfell Tower tragedy on 14th June 2017. (2018)

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The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 shocked and horrified the country, the agony and trauma of its victims compounded by the apparent indifference and disorganization that ensued.

In the chaos, the role of the diverse faith groups in the community stood out. Churches, mosques, synagogues, and gurdwaras all stepped up to the plate, responding practically,
emotionally and spiritually to a moment of pain and confusion. At least fifteen separate centres run by faith communities responded. Aid included acting as evacuation areas, receiving, sorting and distributing donations, offering accommodation, drawing up lists of the missing, supporting emergency services, patrolling the cordon, providing counselling and supporting survivors seeking housing. In the first three days alone at least
6000 people were fed by a range of faith communities. This is alongside the more expected provision of space for prayer and reflection and hosting interfaith services of memorial and
lament. 

This report explores what the faith communities did, how they managed to do it, and what can be learned from the experience. Based on interviews with representatives of faith communities in the vicinity, as well as representatives of statutory bodies and emergency services, the report charts the faith groups’ response in the immediate hours, days and weeks after the tragedy.

Listen to author Amy Plender discuss her findings on UCB radio on 4th June 2018.

“This is a welcome report and I hope it will stand as a timely insight for the future. The community has leant on many local faith leaders for strength and support following the disaster.  All faith leaders should recognise the fantastic response they gave to the fire.” Yvette Williams, Justice4Grenfell

“Combining thorough research and incisive analysis, After Grenfell is an indispensable guide to the faith groups of North Kensington, and their response to the Grenfell fire. A range of witnesses testify to the lively presence of faith in the community, and offer invaluable insights into qualities of engagement and service that began long before the disaster, and will continue into the future. Amy Plender’s compassionate and attentive listening is a model for us all, as together we seek to build the City of God in our midst.” Revd Prebendary Dr Alan Everett, vicar of St Clement and St James, in whose parish Grenfell Tower stands

“This report is a very useful reflection of the events that followed the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017. We at Al–Manaar believe that documenting the tragedy and its aftermath is important and will assist in any future review and evaluation exercises.” Abdurahman Sayed, CEO of Al–Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, near Grenfell Tower

Image is of the prayer wall outside Latymer Community Church, courtesy of Latymer Community Church.

Amy Plender

Amy Plender

Amy joined Theos in August 2017, having previously worked with London–based and international non–profit organisations, and in English and Scottish print journalism. She holds an MA in Divinity and an MTh from the University of Edinburgh. Research areas include the theological responses to suffering and mental health, theology and the arts, liturgical practice, and interfaith dialogue.

Charity, Communities, Faith, Social Action

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