As the inquiry into the horrific Grenfell Tower tragedy is due to hold two days of preliminary hearings on December 11th and 12th, survivors have been making it clear that they are unhappy with the level of participation they have had thus far. “Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and relatives of the dead have warned Theresa May that they may not participate in the public inquiry into the blaze unless the judge leading it makes the process more inclusive and allows them more direct involvement,” the Guardian reports, and there has been a petition circulating calling for the Prime Minister to gain public trust in the inquiry. And you can see why. While Phillip Hammond promised an extra £28m to help victims with programs including mental health services, regeneration support, and a new community space for Grenfell United community group, many have been wondering exactly where the money has been going so far and who will be overseeing and involved in the spending process.
It’s easy to see why survivors lack confidence in the government’s ability. Three months after the fire, only two families had been permanently rehoused— around 150 were living in dozens of hotels around London. There has been a huge amount of miscommunication, of frustration, and of hurt. And there have been very few answers. There have been some victories for the victim’s memories— artist Khadija Saye, who perished in the fire and had been described as a young Tracey Emin, will have work displayed as part of the reopening of Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge. But for many, the tragedy continues. The petition is a way to take back some control in a situation that has left many without, and their demands are more than reasonable. It reads:
To secure trust in an establishment we feel has been distant & unresponsive, & to avoid a collapse of confidence in the Inquiry’s ability to discover the truth, it is fundamental that;
1. The Inquiry is not led by a judge alone. Panel members must be appointed with relevant background, expertise, experience, & a real understanding of the issues facing those affected
2. Legal representatives of bereaved families see all evidence from the start & are allowed to question witnesses at the hearings
It’s an insult that this long after the fire, the survivors are still waiting on so many answers and that they feel they are not being involved in the process. “The prime minister has said she is committed to discovering the truth, but it’s hard to have faith in a process initiated by an establishment that’s been distant, detached and unresponsive to our concerns and an inquiry led by a judge who is far removed from the realities of our lives,” Adel Chaoui, who lost four relatives in the fire, told The Guaridan. “To build trust and to discover the truth, we need diverse panel members to share decision-making power with Sir Martin Moore-Bick.”
We should be so much farther than this. The tragedy was one deeply rooted in inequality, that showed the gross discrepancy in how people live in such horribly clear lines that politicians should be nauseated and desperate to listen. The victims should be heard. Please consider signing the petition so that the survivors of this horrible tragedy get the representation and respect they deserve.