12 months after GRENFELL

14th June 2017, a day that will long live in the memory of those who lost loved ones, who witnessed the pain and suffering, those residents who escaped and will endure the torment of that day for the rest of their lives.

Those left behind, to mourn the loss of their loved ones, and the wider impact this tragic event, has on those in the surrounding and wider communities.

We will never really know the impact this moment in our history will have, maybe in 10 years, maybe 20, maybe beyond.

10 years ago, I lost my mother, it was both painful and tragic and her death was something we as a family struggled to cope with. As each year passes, we look back, we remember the good times, we find that in the end, happiness is something we experience, we share, we feel, and it’s not based on money, or material things, but connections with have with others.

For the first few years I questioned myself, what I did, how I did it, why am I doing it? I was unsure, I craved affirmation, my child like instincts were still there, and I wanted my Mum to tell me I was doing good, this is the right thing for you, well done, I felt lost without that.

I suppose I always felt that at some stage in life, that would come, but it was missing.

What I learnt in her death was it mattered not what I did so to speak, but rather how I did it.

I spent a few years trying to receive her ‘Affirmation’ when the truth was I would never get it. How could I? She was no longer here to give it to me.

But I realised all I could do was to honour her death with how I lived my life, with my intentions, not just my actions.

Husna Begum (22yrs old), Reabeya Begum (64yrs old), Mohammed Hanif (26yrs old), Mohammed Hamid (27yrs old) and Kamru Miah (79yrs old) and entire family’s life, was taken on this horrific night. They weren’t the only families, several others in fact died that night.

I watched with tears, a recent documentary titled ‘24hrs after Grenfell’ as I heard account after account of both residents and family of those who lost loved ones, describe events during the fire.

Footage taken by someone outside showed a man scream: “this is a crime against humanity”.

I share this sentiment, I can’t help but believe this could and should have been avoided. Working in property management has given me insights into some truly awful practices by housebuilders and contractors, and we have we been saying for the past few years that a tragedy is on the verge of happening as a result. We never could of predicted Grenfell, no-one could of, but for me, its demonstrates everything that is wrong with the construction industry. It represents the greed and corporate approach to profits over safety, and this was no different in my view.

There is a blaze attitude to fire safety, not by the masses, but many companies are out there and they know who they are, in fact, the government know who they are.

Dame Judith commented in the recent published Hackett report: “”The mind-set of doing things as cheaply as possible and passing on responsibility for problems and shortcomings to others must stop. Everyone’s focus must be on doing the right things because it is their responsibility as part of a system which provides buildings that are safe and sustainable for those who will live in and use them for many decades”.

The work of the review to date has found that the current regulatory system for ensuring fire safety in high-rise and complex buildings is not fit for purpose. This applies throughout the life cycle of a building, both during construction and occupation, and is a problem connected both to the culture of the construction industry and the effectiveness of the regulations.

These are damning words, words we should all be ashamed of. This is our industry, an industry that is clearly failing in the most basic sense of providing homes that meet the needs and relevant safety requirements/standards of our country.

Personally, I want to see what the big builders will be doing, but so far I have not seen much by way of reaction to both Grenfell and the ‘Hackett Report’. This is of course, by no surprise.

I am more deeply concerned that the government yet again has to step in and make recommendations, potentially change regulations to ensure safety standards are relevant adhered to.

I remember years ago a friend of my told me how the government in South Africa introduced laws that meant farmers had to provide welfare (toilets) for their workers. Subsequently, many farmers had to install toilets ect for their workers. I asked where did they go to the toilet prior and the answer was simply in the bush.

For me, it’s a very sad reality that companies, very profitable, are forced by a change in law, to provide basic level of human care, like provide toilets for their workers, or build buildings that comply with safety regulations and ensure appropriate checks are done on materials being used.

This was a crime against humanity, and justice will never be served, because nothing can change what was done, but we can change how we build, and everyone in the industry are a part of the problem or the solution. It’s about time the builders starting putting people on the agenda at their shareholder meetings not just profits, because I don’t believe this will never happen again, in fact I think it’s just the beginning.

Call me!