Bereaved tell of importance of remembrance in new Grenfell anniversary film

Bereaved and survivors have spoken of the importance of preserving spontaneous messages and memorials which emerged around the Grenfell Tower site in the days and weeks following the fire.

On the seventh anniversary of the deadly blaze, which claimed 72 lives, a new film has been released to highlight the importance of remembering people’s feelings and actions in the immediate aftermath.

Hanan Wahabi, who survived the blaze but lost her brother and his family, and Sandra Ruiz, whose 12-year-old niece died, both feature in the film to highlight how crucial archiving is in preserving the memory of what happened.

They are members of the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission – made up of representatives of the bereaved, survivors and residents of the Lancaster West Estate on which the remains of the tower stand – which was established after the blaze to ensure the community is at the heart of decisions on the long-term future of the site.

They said: “Our film this year, in memory of the 72 beautiful souls we lost seven years ago, explains how important archiving is in preserving the memory of Grenfell in perpetuity.

“Through what has already been written and created, and the subsequent archiving of those expressions, we can continue to hear what people said, and their thoughts and feelings about that night.

“This will help to ensure that what happened on 14 June 2017 is never forgotten. Our 72 loved ones, and our community, deserve nothing less.”

A report by the commission in November said construction of a “bold, fitting, and lasting memorial” to those affected by the fire could begin from late 2026.

The commission’s co-chairs, Thelma Stober and Lord Paul Boateng, said: “Seven years on from the terrible tragedy at Grenfell, our primary commitment as the commission is to establish a dignified, peaceful space for the Grenfell community to commemorate.

“Our fundamental pledge has always been to prioritise the voices and wishes of the bereaved, survivors, Lancaster West Estate residents and the immediate community in the memorial decision-making process, both now and in the future.

“This will ensure that the final memorial embodies a truly meaningful tribute to the 72 lives lost and provides a lasting and appropriate place for loved ones to pay their respects, mourn and feel connected to their memory. We promise never to forget.”

The remains of the tower are still standing, with a green heart and the message “Forever in our hearts” visible at the top.

The Memorial Commission has stressed that it is not responsible for deciding the future of Grenfell Tower, with the Government owning the site and being responsible for its safety and security.

The commission has previously said that if the tower comes down “it should be dismantled with care and respect, and in a way that honours our loved ones who were taken from us”.