Grenfell survivor: Time to reflect and make sure the world is still listening

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The anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire is an opportunity to “make sure that the world is still listening” so such a tragedy never happens again, a survivor has said.

Antonio Roncolato, a former resident of the 10th floor of the west London high-rise block, called for a day of reflection and support as the nation prepares to mark one year since the blaze.

But the 58-year-old also expressed frustration at a litany of promises broken by authorities and said he was still in temporary accommodation.

On Wednesday night, Grenfell Tower was among a dozen buildings illuminated in green as a sign of respect, along with Downing Street and the London Eye.

Downing Street
Downing Street is illuminated in green to mark a year since the Grenfell Tower fire (Edward Lawrence/PA)

“My thoughts are all the time with people that are no longer with us but mainly with the families of those people because their wounds are very much open and very painful.

“Today is a time to reflect and to raise further awareness and make sure that the world is still listening because we don’t want this to happen ever again.”

Grenfell Tower victims, where they were found
(PA Graphics)

However 42 households from the block remain in hotels, while 52 are in temporary accommodation and 83 in permanent new homes. A further 26 are either in serviced apartments or staying with family.

Mr Roncolato said he had been assessed by the council’s housing department and wants to move nearer family in the south of the borough.

He continued: “The council said yes, we will rehouse you there, but it will take a bit more time than expected.

“All the promises and work the local authority and Government said – we should all have been rehoused a long, long time ago, permanently rehoused.

“It hasn’t happened. We never asked for these promises.”

Tower block fire in London
Banners on the outside of Grenfell Tower (London Fire Brigade/PA)

Banners bearing the giant green hearts which have become synonymous with the disaster can be seen for miles, alongside the slogan: “Grenfell: Forever in our hearts.”

Lampposts and zebra crossings throughout the neighbourhood have been festooned with green fabric, while a giant floral heart greeted commuters at nearby Latimer Road station.

The wall of handwritten tributes – last year a desperate mesh of missing posters – is now home to carefully organised shrines to the victims, lined by plant beds.

Tower block fire in London
A woman reads tributes on the wall close to Grenfell Tower (David Mirzoeff/PA)

“Had it not been covered, if you could see the tower and the way it is burnt, it would have been a constant reminder of what took place that night.”

Landmarks were lit green from 12.54am – the time of the first 999 call reporting a fire.

A vigil took place at a church near the block, with the names of the 72 victims read out at 1.30am.

Tower block fire in London
Seventy-two people died in the Grenfell Tower fire (PA)

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 anniversary event, said the names of the 72 victims would be read out, while doves will be released outside the church.

England – FIFA World Cup 2018 – Media Activity – 14th June
England players observed a minute’s silence ahead of training in Russia (Owen Humphreys/PA)

They will be giving out 400 white roses which people will able to carry on their way to the tower afterwards.

As well as the minute’s silence, a community mosaic is to be unveiled, while wreaths will be laid and candles lit.

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.

Islington Town Hall
Islington Town Hall in north London (Islington Council/PA)

Elizabeth Campbell, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said the authority’s thoughts are with bereaved families, victims and the survivors of the disaster.

“It will be a difficult day for the community, with poignant moments to remember those that lost their lives a year ago,” she said.

“I respect the wishes of the families involved, and the wishes of the community who have organised a series of commemorative events across the area. So I am only attending events I have been invited to.”

Theresa May is planning to observe the minute’s silence with staff in her office at 10 Downing Street, her spokesman said.

Mrs May said: “Today, one year on from the Grenfell tragedy, our thoughts are with the survivors and the bereaved. Today is a day for reflection.”

Her spokesman said: “The Prime Minister pays tribute to those who lost their lives and to the courage and strength of the survivors and their loved ones. The dignity which they have shown is humbling.”

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