Grenfell Tower: The Young People Left Behind

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS

The tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire has left many young people without their families. A lot of the focus of the media was on solving the question ‘how did this happen?’. This meant that attention was paid to the pitfalls of the building regulations, which lead to the fire spreading so widely. In this way, it is easy to forget about the nuanced ways that this will effect the people who lived there. Grieving is one thing, but going through this process when you have lost everything is so much harder.

Humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow created a well known diagram which connects to the theory that building our sense of self is difficult if we do not have a home:

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To progress through these different stages, the basic needs of a person need to be met. Housing (shelter) is one of these basic needs. Without a sense of security, it is very hard to move forward in life. This is something I have discussed with staff at a day centre for people experiencing homelessness in Canterbury (Catching Lives)– who I volunteered with for some time. It is widely known that it is incredibly harder for people to heal from mental health issues and substance misuse issues if they do not have a stable, secure base. Now compare this to being a young person who has lost their parents in a sudden fire… It’s incredibly difficult.

The fire at Grenfell Tower has become a symbol of inequality and gentrification in London. The fire should have never happened, but a botch job on the building ruined many peoples lives. The cladding that was put on was simply a material ambition to make the tower block more refined looking externally. In these times we see clearly the effects of a political climate where there is such an imbalance of power. Cuts due to austerity mean that voluntary sectors provide a huge chuck of social support that is needed to guide people on their path to a settled life again. In this way I would like to introduce the charity Grief Encounter. They aim is to support young people who have lost a loved one. They have committed to a project called Grenfell Tower Appeal.

Grenfell Tower Appeal

“We have launched the Grief Encounter Grenfell Tower Appeal, directly supporting the delivery of our bereavement services to those affected. Donations of money and goods to the victims have been overwhelming, thus we only wish to offer direct services to the local schools, community centres and families, offering 1-1 counselling, workshops and more.”

This kind of 1-1 support can be monumental in someones process of healing from such a sudden trauma. Counselling holds space for people to speak freely to a person who is objective. Workshops which use the arts create a sense of togetherness through cathartic creating.

In a couple of weeks time, I will be posting the reflections of Natasha Steer on her experience of running a workshop for this appeal. For now I wanted to make people aware that this is happening and give you the option to donate to a wonderful cause.

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