Mid-morning on an early June day in 2022, Grounded 1002’s Neeta Sharma took to the streets of Notting Hill with a photo and video crew originating from Naples. It was almost a week before the 5-year anniversary of the 24-story Grenfell Tower block fire of June 14th, 2017. The crew’s purpose was quite simple – to check in with a few community members who had supported the aftermath of this devastating fire. There were 100s of people to choose from – different people had contributed in their own ways.
With a few dozen #rockwithcare packages in hand, Neeta spoke with many who were on the ground for days, weeks, and even months after the fire. More than half she spoke with preferred to not be photographed. Some didn’t have words. It’s not surprising that Neeta wasn’t the only one with emotions about this day. People were able to recall Grenfell as it was ablaze just yesterday. Everyone’s experience with the incident was different – this was clear in the body language, breath, and choice words and sometimes, lack thereof.
To exchange sentiments about this fire 5 years later was, well… something. Community members see the later-erected monument almost daily. Grenfell is not forgotten. The 100s of Londoners who gave their time, hearts, ears, wallets, and service to be there for their community during the aftermath of this event are people who truly #rockwithcare.
It is to be brave to offer care to those who need it regardless of labels we tend to get attached to. It is to be brave to take care of yourself when you may realize such an event still lives inside you. To #rockwithcare is a lifestyle.
Rest in peace to 72 souls. For the others, we can’t believe it’s been 5 years. We’re here for you.
Where the 24 story building once stood.
Grenfell forever in our hearts.
Falafel Point on Portobello Road
“It was really a sad day of my life.”
This local business owner was on the ground from early morning with lots of food, water, and empathy. He lost people in the fire and lent a hand in any way he could.
Eye Lounge on Lancaster Road — Dr. Bob Virdee & his wife, Taj Kaur.
Feeling as it is their duty, this couple consistently helps their community no matter the cause. After the fire, they quickly arranged eye tests and got replacement eyewear for whoever needed it. It didn’t just stop there either.
Royal Mail – they know the community like the back of their hands.
Picture taken during his current route on Westbourne Grove. Tunde told us he intimately knew the community given Grenfell Towers was his first route ever. He’s been a support system for many.
Spice Shop on Blenheim Cres.
This local store manager lived near Grenfell at the time. At the shop, he sees many community members all going through their own experiences. He’s lent an ear… and still does.
There are 100’s of community members and volunteers to choose from.
Grounded 1002 left care packages around Notting Hill & North Kensington where we knew Grenfell survivors or volunteers would find them.
Being part of an entrepreneurial family who owns a few stores on Portobello Road, this shop owner recalled how many people he personally knew had been impacted. With such strong roots in the community, he and his brothers felt it was their duty to help and did so in different ways. He reminded us that it was Ramadan when the fire happened and many locals were awake early morning to eat… they saw the fire and went onsite to help.
North Kensington Fire Station
We visited the North Kensington Fire Station and quickly spoke to a few of the brave firefighters. Let’s just say… this fire doesn’t feel like it was 5 years ago for them. These people are true heroes.
On our journey to speak to local volunteers, we came across dozens of people walking alongside a car blasting conscious reggae music from a huge sound system. Everyone walking was wearing black with a small green ribbon attached to the chest. Coincidentally, it was a memorial service for Danny Donaldson, a community member known for many things including the incredible work he’s done with Grenfell Towers. Age 67 at the time of the fire, he raced to help families in the early hours. Here, we are speaking with his stepson and stepson’s girlfriend to learn more about Danny’s contributions.
Visit our Instagram page for more pictures and videos of these beautiful people.
Written by: Selin Oguz & Neeta Sharma
Photography: Daniel Prodomo
Video: Francesco Esposito
Produced by: Grounded 1002