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Bishop of Kensington says the church will always be there for Grenfell Tower survivors

by Cara Bentley

Family members made vulnerable and poignant tributes to those they lost in the Grenfell Tower fire at the start of an inquiry today, beginning a two-week process. 

The mood was flexible, according to whether they wanted to treat it like a chat or nominate a spokesperson to read their story. 

Six victims were spoken about on Monday, including a 'committed Christian', Joseph Daniels and stillborn baby, Logan Gomes, whose father showed his ultrasound and described holding him. 

Listen to the full interview with Bishop Graham, Tomlin and Premier's Cara Bentley here:

In the last 11 months, many churches have supported the survivors and bereaved families and spoken about the families' desire for justice. Notting Hill Methodist Church also streamed the inquiry live for anyone to attend. 

Rt Rev Graham Tomlin, the Bishop of Kensington, has expressed support many a time and went down to the hotel where the inquiry was today. 

He told Premier why this stage was so important: "It actually gives people the opportunity to have their own voice heard, their own stories told, this isn't just a legal process."

"I think part of the story of Grenfell is a community that felt not listened to in the past and that their concerns about the building were not taken seriously before the fire and now is a chance for those same people to have their voices heard."

Bishop Graham said: "The stories of people who lost loved ones, especially children, in the fire are just heart breaking to hear."

He explained how this public tribute period may help those in grief: "Still people, of course, live with those memories right now, for many people it's been very difficult since then and I think quite a number of people have tried to go back to normal, go back to work but not been able to do that and sort of taken time off work again.

"The national media may move on and every now and again get interested in the story, but for the people caught up in it, it's something they live day by day."

Speaking of how churches will always be there to listen, he said: "Local churches and faith communities have a really important place to play in this and some of the local churches have done some fantastic work in the last 12 months. At the time of the fire, they were the ones who immediately opened their doors and were able to provide a sense of shelter and comfort and place to go to and when the official response was a bit slow to get going, I think since then there's a lot of local churches trying to offer some support and strength to people."

He also highlighted how the six month memorial service at St Paul's was a significant moment for the community to come together as they brought the tragedy to God: "You need this tragedy to be brought into the context of something bigger to give a sense of hope and not just something bigger but someone bigger and I think that's one of the crucial things that churches can do to give people context in which you can find hope."

He said it helped everyone: "see it in the context of God's love and that somehow brings a new light to things. It doesn't make it easy - it doesn't somehow solve all the problems but it suddenly can make them bearable. And I think the church has to continue to do that - to hold out that hope that we always have as Christians, that no situation is out of the control of God, that no situation is beyond redemption, that justice can be found, that a future can be found."

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