By Memorial Commission co-chair, Thelma Stober
I am a survivor of the terrorist attack that happened in London on 7 July, 2005, and in which I suffered significant and life-changing injuries. 52 people died that day. I was fortunate to survive and that is a guilt I have lived with ever since. I have since wanted to use my life to make a difference – if only a little – to other people, particularly those who’ve had difficulties in their lives.
I have spent these past 15 years speaking up for those who don’t always necessarily have a voice, including the victims of, and those that are bereaved by, terrorist attacks around the world. When Grenfell happened, my heart went out to the bereaved families and survivors. I couldn’t understand their exact experience, of course; but I felt I could understand, to a large extent, what they were going through and what they would go through as time went on.
I find the 7/7 memorial invaluable. The 7/7 ‘family’ – those that were directly affected by the events that day – meet there every year to mark that date. It is sometimes the only time that we see each other. We are from very different backgrounds, ethnicities, countries, but we don’t have to explain to each other how we are feeling as we all understand. It is a unique and special relationship. The 7/7 memorial provides a place of peace, unity and safety where we can be together.
My vision is to achieve this with the Grenfell Tower memorial, to bring comfort and unity to the bereaved families and survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. If I can help the Commission to achieve that, I will know we have achieved something very important.
There are 10 community representatives within the Memorial Commission, who represent different members of the Grenfell community: the bereaved, survivors and residents of the Lancaster West estate, where the Tower is situated. The community representatives are committed people who want the best for the community. Despite the many COVID-19-related challenges for us all, in our regular online meetings we are working very well together.
We know that everyone will want something different from the memorial and we are going to listen and work through all of those different views. We want to focus on the objectives for the memorial – what do we all want to accomplish? A memorial that is fitting, lasting, that ensures we all remember those that have been lost, and what happened on the night. A place of quiet for families, survivors and the community. Our work is not just about the physical memorial but about what it will nurture and recognise. We hope to create a lasting physical presence of people’s memories, of those affected. That is why it is so important to come together and create this together and for us to enable that to happen.
We’re approaching September and an important stage for us. We are working closely with a community engagement specialist, Kaizen. They will help and enable us to listen to all voices, to gather ideas from the community about the future memorial and then to reflect these back. This work will be thorough, so that everyone who wishes to can participate.
We will use this blog as an extra way for the Commission to reach out to the bereaved families and the bigger Grenfell community, to tell people what we are doing and to say more about who we are.
If you read anything here that you want to talk to us about, please contact us via your community representative or by emailing us. We have sadly not been able to meet people face-to-face because of COVID-19. That makes this blog and the other opportunities we will provide to speak to and hear from you, from September, even more crucial. If there is anything in particular you would like to see us cover in future blogs, please tell us. I look forward to meeting and hearing from you.
Thelma Stober is Head of Legal and Company Secretary at the Local Government Association, and a survivor of the London terror attacks. For updates on the Commission’s developments or to get in touch, email us at: GTMCSecretariat@communities.gov.uk, join the mailing list or follow us on Twitter at @GrenfellTowerMC