By Andrea Newton, one of the Memorial Commission's community representatives for Lancaster West estate residents.
Shortly after moving to Lancaster West 10 years ago, I started doing some work that supported young people whose education and welfare was being affected by their housing. In 2014 that led to working with the Lancaster West Residents’ Association.
When the Grenfell tragedy happened in June 2017, we were a strong unit, we organised quickly and were able to respond to the situation, providing a space for support.
When the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission was being set up, I was approached by local young people to help ensure that their views were heard. I agreed to be nominated and this is what led me to joining the commission.
Working with my fellow community representatives on the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission has been inspiring. We are in a position to share and feedback on the needs of each group we work with. We work together and our goal is to develop a community-led vision for the memorial, and it feels possible.
The bereaved families will have a stronger voice in this process, but we also want to listen the views of everyone that has been affected. Even if you feel your opinion is similar to others, please share that and join the others we have heard from, and give us a real sense of what’s most important to people.
If we need to keep readjusting our approach, that’s what we will do. Listening to different views about the memorial is part of the journey. The memorial must stand forever to represent the people that we lost.
I feel that my role is to encourage different groups of people to speak to each other, as well as talking to us as community representatives. I hope our events will help us all understand each other’s thinking.
It is important that the memorial will be part of the healing process for all the families affected. Our young people will be the ones to share the story of what happened in this community with future generations.
I've noticed that many of the ideas, thoughts and feelings coming from the bereaved families, survivors and residents have similarities and reflect the sentiments of peace, calm, respect and education. There has also been discussion about the memorial being visible from all around the community. All of the ideas have made me hopeful that we are going to reach a place where the memorial reflects what we all want to see.
At our monthly meeting with the co-chairs and community representatives in June, we had an inspiring conversation with Anthoula Katsimatides from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. This left a sense of possibility that each point in our journey to our memorial will bring learning and change. The different opinions will continue to develop our thinking until we arrive at a place where the design of the memorial is something that we can all live with and hopefully be proud of. It will take the time it needs to take. I feel confident that we’re going to do it.
In March 2021, we met online with David Davies, chairman of the Aberfan Memorial Charity, and at the end of July we travelled to Aberfan to meet David and the other trustees. The visit was invaluable, we learned from their experience of long-term maintenance needed to care for the materials and space. We were moved by the welcome and generosity we received in the beautiful Welsh valleys and we look forward to continuing to work with them.
On Saturday 4 September 2021 we are looking forward to meeting you at our monthly drop-in at the St Clement James Centre between 12pm and 4pm. If you would like to speak to us before then, we can arrange a call or meet up for a cuppa.
To contact the Memorial Commission, including the community representatives, go to our contact page. You can also join our mailing list or follow us on Twitter at @GrenfellTowerMC.
Click here to read about the ideas we have heard so far for a future memorial, and to find out how you can contribute your thoughts, too.
Read here for details of the support available to those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.