Tower blocks turn green in solidarity one year on from Grenfell blaze
A series of vigils and services will remember the 72 people who died as a result of the June 14 tragedy.
Grenfell Tower and surrounding blocks will light up in green to mark a year since the moment the devastating fire took hold, claiming 72 lives.
Thursday marks 12 months since a small kitchen fire in the west London high-rise turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War.
Twelve blocks are expected to turn green in a show of solidarity across the west London skyline, while Downing Street is also to be illuminated.
The 13 buildings will be lit up from 00.54am on Thursday – the time the fire is thought to have started – until 5am.
For the following four evenings they will be illuminated from 8pm until midnight.
On the eve of the anniversary, members of the grieving north Kensington community gathered for a 24-hour vigil to reflect on those who died in the fire.
During the private vigil at St Clement’s church, the names of the victims were being read out at 1.30am.
Some 71 people, including a stillborn baby, died in the June 14 fire, and another resident died the following January.
The public inquiry has paused for a week to allow people time to reflect on the anniversary, and on Thursday a series of events will be held in the north Kensington community.
From 11am, there will be a service of remembrance at St Helen’s church organised by campaign group Relative Justice Humanity for Grenfell.
Clarrie Mendy, who lost two family members in the fire and organised the event, said the names of the 72 victims would be read out, while 73 doves will be released outside the church.
She said: “It’s a service of healing, community, inclusivity and solidarity, to know we are not alone.
“We’ll be releasing 73 white doves. Why 73 instead of 72? One for the unknown. If there were more than 72, we will put one for the unknown.”
They will be giving out 400 white roses which people will able to carry on their way to the tower afterwards.
We want the nation to keep Grenfell in their consciousness Yvette Williams, of Justice 4 Grenfell
In addition, a moment of silence will be observed at midday by survivors and bereaved gathered close to the tower’s base and nationally.
A community mosaic is to be unveiled, while wreaths will be laid and candles lit.
The tower is now completely covered by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” emblazoned across the four highest floors.
In the afternoon, the community is expected to congregate at the nearby “Wall of Truth” ahead of a silent march which will set off around 7pm.
Yvette Williams, from campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell, said: “I think we kind of almost move from ‘did it really happen at all?’ to ‘it feels like it happened yesterday’, to looking at the struggles the bereaved families and survivors have had over the year (and realising) that it is actually a year.
“We want the nation to keep Grenfell in their consciousness. The anniversary is about love and support – the fight can start again on Friday and Saturday – and keeping that humanity going on that day.”
After the silent march, families will come together for a community Iftar to break bread with those fasting over Ramadan.
The following day, schools across the country are expected to take part in “Green for Grenfell”, a day to “celebrate the spirit of people coming together”.
The bereaved and survivors group Grenfell United hopes the idea will become an annual event which will continue the unity and support demonstrated by the local community after the fire.
This year, children are being asked to wear green to school and help with a community project, sharing their achievements online.
On Thursday and Friday, more than 2,000 schoolchildren across the UK will sing Grenfell From Today – a charity single inspired by Cornwall Hugs Grenfell, an organisation offering holidays to those affected.
The song is also being learned by choirs in New Zealand and America, founder Esme Page said.
It comes as latest figures show that 68 families will spend the anniversary in emergency accommodation, mainly hotels. Some 52 households are in temporary accommodation and 83 families are in permanent homes, Kensington and Chelsea Council said.
The local authority declined to specify the approximate locations of those now in temporary and permanent homes, including how many people are living in or outside the borough.