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Pray for change - Bishop calls for urgent safety progress on Grenfell anniversary

by Donna Birrell
Bishop_Graham_Tomlin.jpg - Banner image

The Bishop of Kensington says not enough is being done to improve safety, four years on from the Grenfell Tower fire.

Many survivors and families of the bereaved claim lessons haven't been learned from the tragedy with many buildings still covered in flammable cladding.

There are also continued problems with residents having the looming cost of replacing dangerous cladding themselves. 

The Bishop of St Albans tried to make sure tennants would not have to pay for the removal of the cladding, but this was not added to the Fire Safety Bill as MPs rejected the idea.

Speaking to Premier, the Rt Rev Graham Tomlin says all these factors mean Christians should pray for more urgent change:

"It's a difficult day with lots of difficult memories coming back for people, as they remember the events of a four years ago today. There are a hundred churches across the country ringing their bells 72 times at 7pm. It brings home the scale of the tragedy when you just listen to a bell tolling 72 times, it takes a long time to get through that."

Referring to the cladding crisis, Bishop Graham quoted Martin Luther King:

"The great Christian campaigner said that 'justice too long delayed is justice denied'. And there is a feeling that as times goes on, the public inquiry reveals an industry that seemed to have been more interested in selling products and making profits than it was on keeping people safe. Some progress has been made, but not enough and there isn't enough urgency at the moment to actually really resolve this issue, to enable people to sleep safely in their beds at night. Safety is a crucial aspect of God's desire for us in our homes and our shelter and if people don't feel safe in their homes, that's something we really do need urgently to address."

Bishop Graham, who is also the bishop with responsibility for housing, says the Church is pressing developers and the Government for change :

"It is really vital that we're able to articulate a kind of Christian understanding of what good housing is like and to press the urgency of this issue on those who have the responsibility to deal with it."

Some of the people who lost their homes in the fire are still living in temporary accommodation and say they are not able to rebuild their lives. Bishop Graham says Christians should support them in prayer:

"It's important we as Christians recognise that there is always hope, there is always the possibility of rebuilding and that's why faith is such an important part of responding to the fire and remembering it today. So, I would urge people to just take a moment today to pray for the families and bereaved and survivors. And pray also, that there will be change, maybe write to your MP to urge action on the cladding and safety crisis, to make sure that something like this never happens again."

The public inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire is expected to conclude next year.

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