ADVENTIST CHURCH RESPONDS TO GRENFELL TOWER FIRE DISASTER

16th June 2017

The scenes at the Grenfell Estate were both horrific and numbing.

It was about 4:30 pm on Wednesday 14 June, almost 14 hours since the start of the fire, and one could still see the smoke and smell the burning as the 24-storey block of flats continued to consume any outward visible structure of the building. The atmosphere was still of amazement and shock and despair as people that were either residents of the flats or those who had to be evacuated nearby sat along the concrete pavement in dismay, some being comforted by others present in the area, while others staring in stark bewilderment.

In times like this you see the good in humanity as numerous charity and community organisations came together providing supplies of food, water and clothing. The upbeat army of charity organisations compensated for the sad tone that prevailed where hope and cheer were expressed with everyone recognising there is no cultural or religious barriers to helping in a tragic disaster such as this.

However, the stories coming out from those displaced were harrowing. One lady, five months pregnant, stood staring at the smoking building wondering if her mother had made it out. She said, "I just came back from holiday this morning and I came straight here, the last time I spoke to my mother was 11:30 pm last night. Since then I can't get through on her phone." Another middle-aged man shook his head in disbelief, "I can't believe it", he said "my family lived up on the 21st floor, I have checked all the hospitals nearby and no one knows where they are."

It's stories like these and many others that make the reality of what happened in the early hours of Tuesday morning so real and tragic.

Amongst the number of charity organisations on the ground is our very own SEC Community Services department ‒ they were on the scene by lunchtime and were able to distribute food and clothing to those made homeless. Community Services director Malika Bediako said, "we have been inundated with people asking what the Seventh-day Adventist Church is doing. I want to assure them that we have been here as soon as it was possible and the response has been very positive so far. We plan to be on site every day for the rest of the week."

ADRA- UK has also been involved by providing financial support to buy the necessary supplies. Sharon Platt-McDonald in her role as BUC Community Services director immediately approached ADRA-UK to receive financial aid and £2500 has been released to help those in need that would involve help for immediate physical needs but also emotional and social challenges that will arise in the weeks and months to come. Sharon commented on how much the Church can do to make an impact in the local community to help meet immediate needs.

As further information of the deadly fire is passed out over the next few days and weeks, some will be hearing confirmation of the loss of a loved one and will be coming to terms with their grief, pain and loss. Whilst others will be angry as they try to ascertain what caused the fire and demand urgent answers.

Let us continue to pray for the victims, families and those simply confused about what has happened and also for our Community Services department as they represent us as a Church on the ground where people are hurting most.

[Richard Daly]


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