Its been my honour and privilege to help behind the scenes with a local church in North Kensington helping to support those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy. After a request on twitter for logistical help I whizzed over to offer practical help and ended up receiving far more myself.
Chatting to friends involved in development, we agreed we had never seen a more passionate and organised response by a community to a tragedy before. As people faced the nightmare of lost homes and missing people, local residents literally got themselves organised with waves of donations, food, offers of practical help and personal support. It had to be seen to be believed. Whilst institutional support may have been slow, local response was instant and powerful.
Local Churches, Mosques and Gurdwaras organised food, places to sleep and replacement possessions and essentials. Volunteers organised just giving pages and provided links to legal advocacy and pastoral support. Food vans appeared in the area offering free food to volunteers and those affected. The whole community swung into action.
One beautiful landmark became the prayer wall at Latymer Community Church. This beautiful and heartfelt graffiti wall expressed prayers, passionate anger, heartfelt loss and gut wrenching lament. All this amongst candles, incense and deep silent reverence. It was extraordinary.
Its funny to have been asked to help and then realise that really people there had got so much organised. Instead the work that we can help with may well be the longer term projects when the cameras have gone away.
But what is always astounding is when you try to help someone and realise instead that you’re the one receiving inspiration and instruction. I learnt how to love others in the last few weeks.
The people of North Kensington are resolute, loving, determined and inspiring. Its been an honour to get to know a few local people and I hope somehow I might be a blessing to them in the future as I use some of my Space to Breathe time to serve the community.