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Caught on film—the neglect that caused the Grenfell fire

This powerful new documentary captures Grenfell residents’ safety battles—and how they were ignored with catastrophic results, says Isabel Ringrose

Issue No. 2771

Residents and campaigners are still fighting for justice

Residents and campaigners are still fighting for justice (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Grenfell—The Untold Story shares the experiences of survivors, bereaved people and former residents from the tower.

Previously unseen footage from artist Constantine Gras documents the residents’ battle with the building’s management before the fire, the fire itself, and the aftermath.

Residents share their experiences of life in the tower, from daily chats with neighbours, to memories with families at gatherings.

But resident Ed says those living in Grenfell were “treated with utter contempt” when refurbishments began. In 2014 a £10 million redevelopment was commissioned to give the tower new windows, ­heating, cladding and insulation.

The council’s Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) was responsible for overseeing residents’ concerns and health and safety. It assured residents they would be consulted.

But this wasn’t the case.

It’s frustrating to watch the TMO dismiss residents’ worries, especially knowing the devastation to come.

Battered and betrayed but still fighting back - Grenfell activists speak out
Battered and betrayed but still fighting back - Grenfell activists speak out
  Read More

Lack of water, lifts broken, and women with prams being forced up flights of stairs became all too common.

Constantine’s videos of residents’ lives during the refurbishment are also a reminder of those lost. Particularly hard hitting is footage of eight year old Mehdi.

He died with his mother, father, brother and sister in their 21st floor flat. A quarter of all children who lived in the tower died, totalling 18.

Other footage of residents who died shows them battling hard to be heard in meetings with councillors and the TMO. “We were fighting for our lives, but we were not aware of that,” David said.

The documentary then goes to the night of the fire—with footage of the blaze spreading, eye witness accounts and 999 calls of desperate residents in need of help.

It is a terrifying insight. One chilling account is from Marcio, as he tries to escape with his pregnant wife and two daughters. Survivors share their stories of being assisted by their neighbours to evacuate.

With the inquiry into the fire ­ongoing, residents now want justice.

“Those who are accountable need to be held to account, there should be no way of hiding,” Marcio says. “They put profit ahead of people’s wellbeing. It’s an important element of the inquiry to ensure this never happens again.”

On Channel 4, Wednesday 8 September, 10pm and then on More 4

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