Grenfell: Seven years on

By Paul Windo

Seven years ago, the nation was shocked by the devastating fire at the Grenfell Tower in West London. The fire started in the early hours of 14th June 2017, eventually claiming 72 lives (including 20 children) and impacting many more. The community of the Lancaster West estate was forever changed and, as the memorial wall at the foot of the tower shows, the events of June 14th will never be forgotten.

In the weeks following the fire, The London Community Foundation partnered with the Evening Standard to raise over £10m for those affected. Donations were received from over 64,000 individuals, businesses, trusts and foundations as well as the local council. Over £8.5m was made available for survivors who lived in Grenfell Tower, households who lived in Grenfell Walk, and the next of kin of the deceased. The remaining funds became the Grenfell Children and Young People’s Fund, providing multi-year support for local charitable organisations helping children and young people affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

The Grenfell Tower Memorial wall with the tower visible behind it (Photo: The London Community Foundation)

The fund, which consisted of 3 annual rounds of 3-year funding, is now reaching its conclusion and we are currently gathering the final reports from the last cohort of community groups and charities supported. The funding has enabled a wide variety of local, grassroots organisations to develop their services for young people in this community. For some groups it has helped them move from an initial emergency response to the tragedy, to a community provision - trusted, relied upon and making a last difference in young lives.

There are examples of counselling and mentoring schemes, creative arts, music, media and sports activities as well as two ceramic murals created by local young people as a memorial to lives lost in the Grenfell fire. The funding has provided opportunites for new youth and project workers for the area and investment into volunteer teams supporting the local community too. The fund is a great example of people in a community identifying their own solutions and responses to the challenges they face - and being given the resources to take action.

We are planning to share some of the stories of these local, community organisations in the weeks to come. As a glimpse into the impact of the funding, here's a BBC London news report that was recorded with one of the funded projects - Kids on the Green - for the 5th anniversary of the tragedy in 2022:

Watch: BBC News report on Kids on the Green

Seven years on and there is still much that remains unresolved for the community around Grenfell Tower. Lives to be rebuilt. Healing to take place. Justice to be sought. But there are glimpses of a positive legacy emerging. The generosity that was poured out in response to the tragedy has been able to strengthen the future of a community that has suffered so much. It’s the members of that community who are making sure that the next generation in the West Lancaster estate and its surrounds can hope for a fairer, more equitable future.