A virtual church service, an online service of remembrance and the ringing of more than 70 church bells across London will mark the third anniversary of the Grenfell tragedy this Sunday.
It is vital that we all follow the latest public health advice on social distancing and limiting gatherings to six people, so survivors, bereaved families, and the North Kensington community have adapted commemorations to provide events that people can participate in from their own homes.
At 11am on Sunday 14 June, Relative Justice Humanity for Grenfell will lead an online church service featuring live footage along with pre-recorded music and video messages from community, faith and political leaders. The service will be live streamed via https://youtu.be/Qtocpl7Dc6I and https://www.facebook.com/HumanityForGrenfell
At 6pm, later that day, Grenfell United with Grenfell Silent Walk will be holding an online service of remembrance and reflection, in place of the normal evening vigil and silent walk that has occurred in previous years. It will include over 70 church bells across London ringing at 6pm in memory of 72 loved ones, a two-minute silence, remembrance as well as reflections on the journey to justice. You can watch the service at www.youtube.com/grenfellunited
The changes to this year's anniversary are due to Government guidance on COVID-19, which is also outlined in a letter to local residents by Houda Al Sharifi, Director of Public Health for Kensington and Chelsea Council, Dr John Green, Clinical Director of the Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service, and Dr Andrew Steeden, Chair of NHS West London CCG.
Re: Marking the 3rd anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy in the context of COVID-19.
We are writing to you in view of the unprecedented circumstances we face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and because this will impact on the marking of this year’s anniversary. This letter contains advice on taking part, social distancing, and looking after each other during what is a very difficult period. Please follow this advice and put the safety of others first.
The date of 14 June is a difficult time for many people in this community and in communities right across London and beyond. Grenfell Tower was a terrible tragedy that should never have happened, and the anniversary serves as an important time to remember and reflect. This year, nearly three years on, the anniversary is complicated by the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 is a virus that affects us all. It has taken the lives of many people from the community, and touched many more. Government guidelines around social distancing and limiting gatherings to six people are in place to keep us as safe as possible. While lockdown is being eased, the virus remains a serious risk.
We are particularly mindful of the disproportionate impact the virus has on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities. This part of London is a wonderfully diverse community, but this means we need to be extra vigilant about the increased risks.
When thinking about how to mark the third anniversary, we must follow public health guidelines so we can protect our family, friends, our communities, and ourselves.
After many conversations with community groups in the local area, it has been agreed that there will not be any public timed events planned on the 14 June this year. We appreciate how difficult this will be for many people, but as we all strive to learn the lessons from Grenfell, it is vital we place safety above all else.
The North Kensington community is incredibly creative and has worked hard to adapt their plans and a number of virtual events are being arranged that you can participate in from your own home. More details will be circulated about these in due course on social media and other channels, but they include:
- At 11am on the 14 June 2020, Relative Justice Humanity for Grenfell will be holding a virtual church service. This will replace the church services that have taken place in previous years and will include live footage from the church with pre-recorded music and video messages from community, faith and political leaders. You can watch the service through: https://youtu.be/Qtocpl7Dc6I and https://www.facebook.com/HumanityForGrenfell
- At 6pm on the 14 June, Grenfell United with Grenfell Silent Walk will be holding an online service of remembrance and reflection, in place of the normal evening vigil and silent walk that has occurred in previous years. It will include over 70 church bells across London ringing at 6pm in memory of 72 loved ones, a two-minute silence, remembrance as well as reflections on the journey to justice. You can watch the service at www.youtube.com/grenfellunited
If you do go down to the area around the Grenfell Tower site, please follow Public Health guidelines and NHS advice and stay at least 2 metres away from other people; you may not know if someone near to you has an underlying condition that makes them very vulnerable. We would also recommend you consider wearing a face covering as this can particularly help to protect those around you.
There will be officials in the area encouraging people to maintain social distancing and to be respectful and considerate to others who may also want to pay their respects.
We know that many people would prefer to pay their respects in person. However, we urge you to put the safety of the community first by engaging with the virtual services and showing your support and remembering together online.
Thank you for your understanding and support and we wish you well during this difficult time.
Houda Al Sharifi, Director of Public Health, London Borough of Westminster/Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Dr John Green, Clinical Director, Grenfell Health & Wellbeing Service, CNWL
Dr Andrew Steeden, Chair, NHS West London CCG