Last week marked the year anniversary of the Grenfell fire. A year on, it’s tragically unsurprising that the government’s response to helping survivors in many ways has been as incompetent and negligent as the causes of the fire in the first place. While thousands marched last week in protest and the sentiment that those who suffered the loss of their homes, friends and family should be properly assisted is held by anyone with a beating heart… Initial promises from Downing Street are nowhere close to being met.
A year later, the majority of families who have dealt with immense trauma are still waiting to be housed, with 15 households still staying in hotels and only 82 of the 203 households in new permanent accommodation. Not only has work barely started on refitting similar blocks nationwide that are deemed high risk, but building regulations presently still allow for combustible cladding. Panels like the ones that adorned Grenfell are still on sale.
With the most basic provision of a place to live for the fire’s victims still seemingly far off, let alone justice (if any) from an enquiry expected to run into 2020 for the 72 people who lost their lives, there is a very understandable level of anger and disbelief still building for many. Since it’s not unreasonable to assume the government will do anything it can to absolve itself from direct responsibility and that pledges to prevent this happening again will not be met without continued pressure, it’s a fortunate thing that so many voices are continuing to speak out and demand action.
As hip hop has been a part of that voice since the start… Below are three cutting perspectives from the community we’ve listened to over the last week.
Si Phili – 24 Storeys of Pain
Serving as a reminder of the horrific experiences endured by residents of the tower on the night of the fire by recounting the personal story of survivor Oluwaseun Talabi, Si Phili puts himself in the shoes of a family trying to escape with ‘24 Storeys of Pain’. The track is available to stream or download now on bandcamp.
Potent Whisper – You’ll Never Edit Grenfell
‘You’ll Never Edit Grenfell’ takes the angle of tearing apart a bullshit narrative of the disasters aftermath published in Andrew O’Hagan’s ‘The Tower’. In typically analytical fashion Potent Whisper lays bare the contrast between the realities of the victims’ human experiences and the sort of callous and outright bigoted perspectives of those so far removed from the suffering that dehumanising it is possible. Potent is on point.
For more from Potent Whisper on the topic read/listen to ‘Grenfell Britain’ from his collection of poetry The Rhyming Guide to Grenfell Britain.
Lowkey ft Kaia – Ghosts of Grenfell 2
Last summer in response to the tragedy, rapper/activist Lowkey released the video for ‘Ghosts of Grenfell’ that was part protest and part tribute to those lost and those grieving. Taking the same powerful visual format, with his words spoken through the mouths of locals and survivors, ‘Ghosts of Grenfell 2’ revisits the disaster a year on. Highlighting the neglect of a response that has failed the survivors and bringing to the foreground how fresh the wounds of the fire still are, it’s a moving reminder that the road to justice for victims and acceptable assistance for those rebuilding their lives still seems to be at its beginning.
To show support for housing survivors and continue to apply pressure on the Government for justice and delivered promises; join the Grenfell United campaign. For details on how you get involved with marches and activism join the mailing list at supportgrenfellunited.org.