Opinion piece – Christine Davies (joint women’s officer, Milton Keynes Labour Party)
On June the 14th 2017, Grenfell Tower a 24-story apartment block in west London caught fire and 72 people died. We can only imagine the heartache of those who have lost loved ones in the Grenfell fire and the prolonged suffering of the survivors displaced.
Since then we’ve had broken promises from the government leaving families in emergency accommodation, while up and down the country, residents in over 300 tower blocks covered in cladding still live in fear. We need to come together to show the government that we will continue to fight until we have justice for the people of Grenfell.
Local campaigner John Orr and I made a recent visit to Grenfell to show solidarity from Milton Keynes and to ensure that the victims of Grenfell are not forgotten. The community of Grenfell organises a silent walk on the 14th of each month, beginning outside Notting Hill Methodist church. Local groups and individuals gather to display solidarity and support. Seventeen months have passed and still not enough has been done for the 72 victims or for their families, friends and survivors. How can we not be moved and saddened by the horrific disaster where lives have been destroyed?
John and I travelled by train from Milton Keynes to participate in the Silent Memorial Walk. People of all ages come together and embraced with hugs and tears. Demanding Justice For Grenfell, we held our banners high, most of us draped in green. Our flickering candles dazzled by rain displayed a beautiful image of solidarity. We reflected on our thoughts as we slowly walked, silently, respectfully thinking of others. Shoppers paused as we walked down the road. On nearby railings were teddies flowers and ribbons. For the local community thoughts are with the loved ones they’ve lost. Where was the justice? LET THEM HEAR OUR SILENCE.
As the march drew to an end, we could see streets lined with a warm glow of green, where rain glistened, and we reflected on the aftermath of a tragedy. With our candles still glowing we silently turned towards Grenfell Tower. Once beaming with life and hope, it now reminds us of loved ones gone. Under the flyover we congregated by the long memorial wall. There we read evidence of testimonies, statements and facts. JUSTICE FOR GRENFELL.
Many of us stayed for speeches and poems, some queued for food for the hungry and tired. Others dispersed like silhouettes in the distance, still holding their candles to give them some light. Thank you Moyra Samuels who stands up for the Justice of Grenfell and thank you to Anna Rothery for bringing greetings and solidarity from Liverpool, you have both inspired us to do more. There must be justice for the people of Grenfell , we must keep up the fight. Alone they will become invisible, so let’s do this together. Let’s hold our own silent vigil in Milton Keynes on the 14th of every month in solidarity.
Christine Davies (joint Women’s Officer, Milton Keynes Labour Party)