The fire at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017 claimed the lives of 72 people, displaced more than 200 households, and sent shockwaves through North Kensington that will last long in to the future. Like virtually every other community-orientated organisation in the area, our world was turned upside-down. Our day-to-day work stopped and we responded as best as we could. We were part of a collective response.
Our Grenfell and Wider Community Support Officer is available to provide advocacy, advice, support and referrals on a number of services. Find out more here.
Westway Sports & Fitness Centre
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, with the help of Everyone Active, we opened the Sports Centre as one of many relief and donations hubs in the area, co-ordinating support services and supporting victims and volunteers until more formal support arrived from the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council. The centre became the official relief hub, completely or partially closed to the public, for six weeks. During that time we advocated to leaders within the local authority, the Greater London Authority, and the government for resources, support and guidance to help the relief effort. We also supported organisations such as the Kensington & Chelsea Foundation to distribute a small fund of donated money to survivors in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
Grenfell and Wider Community Support Coordinator
London Funders awarded us a grant to pay for a dedicated member of staff for one year from November 2017 to work with those affected by the fire. Joanna Atogdina, normally our Programme Coordinator for Supplementary Schools, was able to support some of those affected to access support from institutions and to overcome language barriers so that they can access funding and advice to rebuild their lives. She has also set up a homework club for children affected by the fire and helped individuals with their cases.
Over the summer following the fire there was a need for children’s activities to support those affected and provide respite for their parents. We provided funding to six supplementary schools to organise activities for their pupils. We also delivered environmental activities including beekeeping, bird house making and other arts and crafts attended by a total of 67 children, many of them coming to multiple sessions each week. Kids on the Green, a community group set up in the wake of the fire, also used space on the estate to deliver healing activities including counselling, art therapy and circus skills.
Community Activity On The Estate
Following the fire, two spaces on the estate were used for impromptu community-led activity – the covered open-space at Maxilla and Bay 56 on Acklam Road. These spaces have acted as hubs for donations and community-led spaces for reflection and healing.
Over the next months and years ahead, we see our role as continuing to act as an advocate for investment and resources for the area; and to make the best use of the organisations resources to support the needs of the community today.