The Grenfell Tower disaster was by far the most horrific and emotional week in our Club’s history. We lost 3 young people, and many more lost everything.
We cannot put a time scale on how long this tragedy will affect our community, but the Harrow Club will always be here to deliver support and relief for as long as needed.
Our response – a word from Michael
On the morning of 14th June at 2.30am, I received a call from a staff member who lives in the local area informing me that Grenfell Tower was on fire and we needed to open the Harrow Club.
When I arrived I found traumatised victims of the fire already inside the cafe area being comforted by staff members. We quickly established a structure to manage the situation and started registering victims. The whole community came together showing true empathy and human spirit. Volunteers poured through our doors, with ex-members and local residents of homes and businesses ready to be put to task.
In the first 24 hours donations flooded in and quickly took over the whole building with volunteers busy sorting items by size and gender. There were many charities on the ground doing the same thing, but without an official emergency response team or any contact from RBKC, we continued to provide care packs consisting of food, water, clothing or purchasing items that they needed – helping the community with our own resources.
Learning to cope
In partnership with psychotherapist, Derek O’Neill who has over 25 years in helping people from around the world cope with trauma and anxiety, we held a free workshop that offered advice on how to deal with day to day issues that may be affecting the victims. It was very successful and was attended by survivors, emergency services and volunteers from the night, helping many of them come to terms with the tragedy.
In the 4 months following the fire we continued to help over 70 families and 234 individuals directly involved in the fire as victims or survivors. We provided hot meals, donated clothes, cash, vouchers and anything that they needed to bring some relief. Our Hall was used for a residents meeting that attracted 215 residents and was attended by the Police, MPs and government officials.
Here at the Harrow Club we dealt with the initial donations for the affected victims and families, right through to through to an extended summer programme across all four clubs. We provided an essential provision for over 300 young people in North Kensington, when they needed it most. As the community continues to heal, we’re working together to give support wherever we can.