- About the Commission
- Engagement with the Grenfell community
- What a future memorial should be like
- The Grenfell Tower memorial vision statement
- What we have heard: the vision for the memorial
- The memorial should be a peaceful and reflective space
- The memorial should be a respectful place and a place of remembrance
- The memorial should be a place of hope and positivity
- The memorial should be a place of community and love
- Features suggested by the Grenfell community
- The use of elements from Grenfell Tower in the memorial
- Beyond the memorial
- The Commission’s proposal for ownership
- Our next steps
- Thank you
- Appendix 1: The Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission Terms of Reference
- Appendix 2: who has engaged with us about the future memorial?
- Appendix 3: % of all words (given by people in response to the question, ‘which three words would you want to describe the memorial?’) within the four emerging themes
- Appendix 4: views on the physical form of the memorial
- Appendix 5: views on memorial features
- Appendix 6: views on the use of the memorial
- Appendix 7: views on the ownership, management and funding of the memorial
- Appendix 8: views on the use of elements from Grenfell Tower in the memorial
- Appendix 9: just some of your ideas...
- Appendix 10: what has happened so far, and what can you expect next?
Following the tragic events of 14 June 2017, the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission was created. Our objective was to bring into focus a truly community-led vision for a fitting memorial, to commemorate those who lost their lives and those whose lives were forever changed on that terrible night. We began this process in September 2019.
Since then, we have worked closely with the Grenfell community, by which we mean the bereaved families, survivors, Lancaster West Estate residents and the immediate community who live in close proximity to Grenfell Tower. We have sought to understand their hopes and wishes for a future memorial. In our May 2022 report, Remembering Grenfell: our journey so far, we presented what we had heard from the Grenfell community up to that point. This also gave us an opportunity to test our understanding of what we had heard.
“When we say the ‘Grenfell community’, we mean the bereaved families, survivors, Lancaster West Estate residents and the immediate community who live in close proximity to Grenfell Tower.”
This report goes much further. It is the culmination of nearly four years of work and sets out the Grenfell community’s vision for the memorial, its future management and the ongoing process of remembering what our community has lost. We share what our community has said about what our memorial should be like. Where there is common ground in what people want, we say so. Where there is a lot of difference in views, or where people’s wishes are less defined and less clear, we say so.
As a Commission we make four promises:
- Our first promise is to create a place of dignity and peace. A lasting place where those who had loved ones taken from them can cherish and feel close to their memory, and where our community can remember.
- Our second promise is to create a bold memorial that will help to make sure the tragic events at Grenfell Tower are never forgotten. Not now, not in years to come. We, and the rest of our Grenfell community, are all very clear about that.
- Our third promise is to help to put in place arrangements to guarantee the memorial will be looked after, and not allowed to fade or drift into disrepair.
- Our fourth promise is to ensure the voices and wishes of the Grenfell community are always at the heart of decision-making about the memorial.
In our journey, we have moved at the pace that our community needed. The Grenfell community is unique in many ways, and it is only right that our memorial is determined in a way that is specific to us.
As we move closer to the stage of designing and building the memorial, this report sets out the next stages for its creation. That includes discussion of practical issues such as legal ownership, and recommendations for how elements from Grenfell Tower might be conserved and kept safe for the future, in line with the wishes of those who lost the most. You can see our full list of memorial recommendations on pages 11 to 13.
We remind the government to honour its commitment to the memorial, and to fulfil its moral duty to deliver the Commission’s recommendations.
A timely, public response from the government and an agreement to work with the Commission going forward is vital, and must be in accordance with the timelines set out in this report (see Appendix 10).
In addition to our – the Commission’s – own personal commitment, external experts have helped us to collect views and ideas for the ‘form’ and ‘feel’ of the memorial from the Grenfell community. This help, our direct and often deeply personal conversations with the Grenfell community, plus community conversations held by our co-chairs, have informed our recommendations. As a Commission, we have also taken advice from the families, teams and guardians involved in the memorials of other tragedies, both in the UK and across the world. Our recommendations bring all of this research together in service to our promise to honour the memory of those taken from us.
This report is an important milestone on the journey to making the community’s memorial vision a reality. Following the publication of this report, we will launch our search for a specialist and community-minded design team. We anticipate doing this next spring, and that the team will be selected in late 2024. We envisage the memorial design will have been developed with the community by late 2025, and that the memorial build could begin from late 2026. As we say later in this report, this exact timing will also come down to other dependent factors that are out of our hands, such as a government decision about the future of Grenfell Tower.
There is urgency to creating the memorial. We have heard how much the Grenfell community need a permanent space for remembrance. The area around Grenfell Tower is a sacred space for those who had loved ones taken from them by the tragedy. Those who had their lives changed forever by events on that night do not yet have a permanent and fitting place to pay their respects, to mourn and to reflect upon their experiences. The beginning of the process of designing and building the memorial and the changes it will bring should not be seen as an act of closure. Rather, it is progression towards memorialising the love for those we have lost. The memorial should also be a testament to the consequences of the past neglect of the views and welfare of the Grenfell community.
In our first report, we spoke of what we still had left to do. This report sets out the wishes of our community for the memorial. But this is not the end of the work. What comes next will be the process of working together to choose who will craft and shape the ideas we have heard into a place of remembrance for those no longer with us.
We remain committed to the Grenfell community leading the vision for the creation of a fitting and lasting memorial, and to keeping the voices of those most affected at the heart of all we do (see The ongoing role of the Commission). We know that the memory of those we lost and the impact of the tragedy will not fade. The power of our own healing and remembrance will always shine brightly.
We know that our tragedy and our resilience speak to many across the country and across the world. We have worked hard to listen to everyone who wished to share their views with us, and we have taken time to ensure that everyone who felt able to, had space to be able to speak with us. Now, we move from speaking together as a community about what the memorial could be to bringing together what we have heard about what the memorial should be.
The memorial will be a place that embodies how our Grenfell community chooses to remember those we have lost, and the events that caused us such sorrow and pain. The memorial will be a place of calm and respect, and where the seeds of hope planted by the Grenfell community can grow for generations to come.
The memorial will be a place of safety and peacefulness, and of private and communal reflection, where we can be with our memories and our feelings. It will be a reminder of what should never have happened. It will be a place of remembrance where our community, and communities across the country and around the world, can draw strength. And it will be a symbol to all those in power of the importance of ensuring a tragedy like ours never happens again. Future generations will see the memory of those we have lost and understand their duty to make a world where nothing like this can ever be repeated.
Many of the places of remembrance that were created by the community in the days, months and years after the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, remain in place. They are what we created in response to the unimaginable pain and shock of that time, with the creativity, love and deep respect our community had to hand.
These memorials are vastly important, and our recommendations are intended to ensure these are protected, where possible, so that they may be there for our children’s children.
Everyone who drives down the Westway, or travels through Latimer Road, Ladbroke Grove and North Kensington, does so in the presence of Grenfell Tower. The memorial wall on the wooden hoarding that surrounds Grenfell Tower has become part of the landscape. Grenfell Tower, and the immediate surrounding area closed off to the public, are a memorial already.
The memorial that we, the Grenfell community, are creating, will last and will make sure the Grenfell tragedy can never be forgotten.
As we publish this report, Grenfell Tower remains in place. The Commission is not responsible for decisions around its future, as this is a matter for government who are holding their own conversation with the community on this. Everyone agrees that if Grenfell Tower comes down, it should be dismantled with care and respect, and in a way that honours our loved ones who were taken from us.
We cannot change what has happened. What happened remains, raw and real. The memorial will honour the memory of the 72 loved ones who will never eat with us and laugh with us again. In this report, we share with our community, and with those who will help us to make it happen, the outline of the memorial that our community wants and needs: a place that represents us, which reflects who we lost and who they were.
Our work to build a fitting and lasting memorial is not over. In this report we recognise and thank all of the people who have taken the time to speak to us over the weeks, months and years and who made clear how much they want and need the memorial to be built. We repeat our commitment to ensuring the Grenfell community will remain at the heart of this work.
We are aware that in this report, we are addressing the incredibly sad and sensitive topics of loss and trauma. We do this with our utmost respect and we have attempted, throughout, not to use language or phrases that may offend anyone. We sincerely hope that this is what we have achieved but we remain aware that this may not be everybody’s experience when reading the report.
We have written the report with care and attention, and we have humbly attempted to reflect the different perspectives we have heard. We hope we have managed to do this sensitively.
From here, together, we begin the process of making the memorial real.
In summary: our recommendations for a memorial on the Grenfell Tower site
Based on what we have heard from the Grenfell community we recommend the following for the future memorial design.
- The families bereaved by the tragedy, those who escaped on the night and lost their homes, and those living close to Grenfell Tower, must always remain at the centre of decisions about the memorial.
- The memorial must be a sacred space designed and built to last, by which we mean it should be permanent.
- The memorial must be a peaceful place for remembering and reflecting, both individually and communally, on who and what we have lost.
- The memorial must incorporate a garden; a green space whose planting conveys a sense of growth and renewal as an aid to remembrance.
- The memorial must contain a dedicated space for the private expression of grief and mourning for the families who lost loved ones.
- The memorial’s design must reflect the rich mix of faiths and cultural backgrounds that makes up the Grenfell community, and to which those taken from us and those who survived belong.
- Designs for the memorial should make sure the world can never forget what happened to our loved ones and our community. Memorial designs must include options for including the names of those taken from us (where families wish this), and must consider the appropriate height and visibility of the memorial.
- The memorial must last for generations and must never be neglected. Appropriate arrangements must be put in place so that the memorial will be looked after and managed for the future and funds must be put in place so that this can happen.
- Art has been an important part of the Grenfell community’s path through loss towards hope. The memorial should include a monument (as well as a built structure or other architecture to protect visitors from the weather) and/or artwork that evoke community, love, hope, sadness and those who were taken from us.
- Water and the use of light were important features mentioned by the Grenfell community. These should be considered in the process of developing the memorial.
- The memorial must support the needs of families visiting with children. The Commission also recommends that the memorial finds a way to reflect the children we lost in the tragedy, and how our children and young people have endured so much.
- Once the memorial is built, the legal title and day-to-day management of the memorial site should be vested in an appropriately qualified experienced entity operating at arms’ length from both local and central government. The Royal Parks is an example of an organisation that we believe would be suitable, due to its experience stewarding numerous memorials of national significance. The Commission urges the government to explore the possibility of The Royal Parks, or similar organisations, having a role in the ongoing management and maintenance of the memorial after construction.
Our recommendations beyond the Grenfell Tower site
- The Commission recommends the development of an archive, working with experts including the National Archive. Some elements of the archive would potentially only be accessible to bereaved family members and survivors.
- The Commission recommends that a sensitive and reflective digital archive should also be curated with family members and survivors.
- The Commission recommends a long-term public exhibition. Together with the archives, this will help make sure that current and future generations can learn about and remember the tragedy, the factors that contributed to it, and how the Grenfell community responded to it.
- The Commission recommends that elements of (or from) Grenfell Tower – which cannot be retained as part of the memorial and are not to be conserved – must be safely and respectfully ‘laid to rest’ at a second, appropriate, accessible and sacred site. This site must be agreed with bereaved family members and survivors, and in consultation with local faith leaders. We ask the government to work with the mayor of London and local faith leaders to identify such a site.
2. About the Commission
Following the tragic events of 14 June 2017, the then prime minister, Theresa May, committed that the community should be at the heart of decisions on the long-term future of the Grenfell Tower site. The views of the bereaved families carry the most weight in the decision-making process, and the Commission was structured in a way to ensure this.
In 2018, the government facilitated conversations with representatives of the bereaved families and the local community. These conversations resulted in the creation and publication of the Principles Governing Consultations on the Future of the Grenfell Tower Site on 1 March 2018. These principles have guided our work and ensure that we can hold government to the commitments they made at that time.
Following the publication of those principles, the community signatories and local groups that serve the immediate North Kensington community came together. They talked and agreed how representatives for the community would be at the heart of the future decision-making process. This led to the publication of the Terms of Reference for the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission, on 12 September 2018.
In 2019, all bereaved families, all households formerly living in Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk, and all Lancaster West Estate households were sent letters with instructions on how to vote for community representatives. 67% of bereaved families took part in this vote.
Between September 2019 and February 2020 our membership was finalised, and our work then began.
The Memorial Commission is made up of representatives of the bereaved, survivors, residents of the Lancaster West Estate, and two independent co-chairs. The representatives and co-chairs are unpaid and carry out their work voluntarily.
The Commission is independent of any other organisation. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) funds the Commission’s work and provides dedicated administrative support.
The Memorial Commission’s community representatives and co-chairs are supported by relevant, public authority representatives and experts who attend meetings by invitation only. They are not members of the Memorial Commission and do not have voting or decision-making rights. By working with them from the start, our hope was, and remains, to smooth the process of turning the community’s vision and plans into a real memorial.
Who we are
How we make decisions
In its decision-making, the Commission has an agreed, democratic process for arriving at consensus. Representatives for bereaved families make up 50% of the Commission, representatives from survivors make up 30% and representatives from the Lancaster West Estate make up 20%. For a decision to be made at a Commission meeting, at least two bereaved family members, one survivor and one Lancaster West Estate representative must be in attendance.
We have reached out to, and heard from, the Grenfell community in many different ways since we began this process. All of our recommendations come from what we have heard from the Grenfell community, and from the advice and guidance we have received from people who have created and who manage memorials to other tragedies across the world.
3. Engagement with the Grenfell community
We knew from day one that our focus was to hear from the Grenfell community so that the future memorial would be based on the wishes of bereaved, survivors and local residents. This was never going to be an easy task, and it was made even harder by the Covid-19 pandemic; but we remained committed to the task and dedicated ourselves to achieving it no matter the challenges we faced.
We, in the Commission, have been directly affected by the tragedy ourselves. We acknowledge that our own trauma has had, and continues to have, an impact on our own deliberations. We want to be open about how we, ourselves, have also needed mutual understanding and patience.
Our approach to engaging with the Grenfell community has been grounded in the following key values:
Empathy and sensitivity
We understand the pain and trauma of the Grenfell community and knew that for many of us any conversation about the memorial would be incredibly painful. Throughout our engagement, we remained sensitive to this, supporting each other and the Grenfell community to engage and share their thoughts on their terms, and in the way that worked best for them. This included enabling people to share their views in any language or medium, whether individually or collectively as part of representative or family groups.
We recognised that not everyone would feel able or ready to have this conversation and that in such a culturally diverse community, families will grieve and mourn differently. It was vital we kept feeding back what we had been hearing so that all members of the Grenfell community had the opportunity to understand what was happening. We said, from the outset, that we would take as long as was needed, and would move at the pace of the Grenfell community. We did not want to rush the process, but we also knew that it was important that progress was made towards the future memorial.
Diversity and inclusion
We celebrate and value the amazing diversity of the Grenfell community, and we understood there needed to be a wide range of ways that people could share their views. Over three years, people shared their hopes and ideas for the memorial, in meetings and discussions, in writing (including in the different languages of our community) and even through drawings and artwork. (See How we heard from people)
Engagement with bereaved and survivors was primarily led by the bereaved and survivor representatives on the Commission. We also carried out more than 200 days of outreach in the local area, talking with community members to ensure we had heard from the full diversity of local residents. Those undertaking this work included native speakers of a range of languages, including Amharic, Arabic, Diakanke, Farsi, French, Hindi, Italian, Malinke, Portuguese, Somali, Spanish, Ssosso, Sylheti, Tigrinya and Urdu. We listened to and valued every view, but particular weight was of course attached to the views of bereaved families.
The task we faced was immense and we knew that we would need to have an open and collaborative mindset, and to harness the incredible energy and talent from within the Grenfell community. We received a huge amount of support, help and guidance on our journey – from members of the Grenfell community, from bereaved families and survivors of other tragedies from across the world, from engagement and design specialists, and other experts who worked directly with the Memorial Commission.
Our engagement and listening journey can be divided into three phases.
February 2020 – August 2020
Phase 1: designing our approach
In the first phase, we agreed our ways of working and designed our approach to the engagement. This involved meetings and discussions with members of the Grenfell community, and local schools, voluntary organisations and faith leaders. We continue to be grateful for all their guidance and support. There were two core aims for the engagement:
- To understand the views of the Grenfell community on what they wanted for the Grenfell memorial.
- To facilitate a process so that the Grenfell community could forge common ground for the memorial vision, so that the future memorial would reflect and honour those who lost their lives, their families and loved ones, survivors, residents and the local community.
The ambition was to speak to and hear from as many people affected by the Grenfell tragedy as possible. We had a particular focus on making sure we heard from traditionally excluded groups and quieter voices, including children and young people, older people and those who don’t speak English as their first language.
September 2020 – May 2022
Phase 2: in-depth engagement on the vision for the memorial
We held conversations with more than 2,000 people from the Grenfell community, which enabled us to develop an initial understanding of the vision, ambition and hopes that they have for the memorial. We used a wide range of methods and approaches so that people could share their views in the ways that worked best for them. During this time, we were all experiencing the many challenges and restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant for much of this time we were not able to hold larger group meetings or events in person. (For more details, see How we heard from people, pages 20 to 21.)
At different points, starting in December 2020, we shared back with the Grenfell community the themes and ideas that were emerging. This allowed us to get feedback to make sure we were on track and to give all members of the Grenfell community the opportunity to be aware of what we were doing and what we were hearing.
June 2022 – August 2023
Phase 3: reviewing, reflecting and refining
In May 2022, we published our first report, Remembering Grenfell: our journey so far. It told the story of our work as a Commission, what we had found out so far and what our next steps would be in making sure that we fulfilled our mission in shaping a memorial to the loss our community has endured.
Throughout the process we stayed in regular contact with bereaved and survivors. We wrote to them directly, held several events, and had conversations with their representative groups. And we used the networks and relationships we, the community representatives, have as members of the Grenfell community.
Local residents were also kept informed through letters, events, emails and social media posts, as well as by conversations with local faith groups and with voluntary and community organisations.
We wrote again to all bereaved and survivor families in April 2023, to let them know that we would be concluding this phase of the engagement in July 2023 to prepare our final report. While July did not mark the end of our discussions, we felt it was important to share that we were moving to the next stage.
Over the course of our many conversations, we heard from 97 bereaved family members (representing 31 out of the 43 bereaved families) and 43 survivors. We also spoke with more than 2,000 local residents, of which 490 live on the Lancaster West Estate.
How did we hear from people?
We established different ways for people to speak to us, and for us to listen to and capture their views about the memorial. This was to support and enable people to communicate with us however it suited them best. The numbers below do not reflect the many more informal discussions we held with different members of the community, and non-recorded moments of speaking, listening and providing support.
- 1,320 one-to-one conversations, mostly in‑person but also over the phone
- 630 people spoken with in small groups
- 47 views shared by email or by post
- 78 people shared their view via online surveys
- 150 people shared views at our events, including by completing a questionnaire, by sketching or by leaving post-it notes on our vision boards
- 2,259 people have given us their views about the memorial, some of them more than once
- 34 views about the memorial shared with the government or council and, with permission, passed onto us
- 9 visits to, or meetings with, other memorials
- meetings with representative groups and individuals, including schools, youth groups, the voluntary and community sector, and faith leaders (held by Commission co-chairs, community representatives or the secretariat)
- Memorial Commission events:
- 26 in-person events, including Saturday workshops, iftar meals (including for young people) and lunches for bereaved and survivor families
- 31 online events via Microsoft Teams
The main themes that came up
Early on in the process of developing the vision for the memorial we had conversations with bereaved family members, survivors, those who lost their homes, people who live on the Lancaster West Estate and members of the local community, where we asked them to tell us three words they would most want to use to describe the feel of the memorial: what it might be like to be there, and what thoughts and feelings they hoped it would inspire.
People gave us over 300 words, and we analysed these words to find common themes. Three quarters of the words fitted under four overall themes:
Words like these were said time and again by the Grenfell community. There were some slight differences between what was said most frequently by bereaved individuals and survivors, by residents and by other parts of the Grenfell community, but the overall themes remained consistent across all groups.
Further important context
As the second phase of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry drew to a close, we found that the Grenfell community was now more ready to consider the memorial and to share views and ideas.
The publication of our May 2022 report showed our community that our work, as the Commission, accurately reflected the wishes, ideas and feelings people have about a memorial. We demonstrated our progress in fulfilling our promise to create a lasting and fitting memorial to the people taken away from our community. It felt reassuring to us that many of the conversations we had had indicated that people recognised that the process of creating the memorial was being given the time and the consideration that it needed.
Since our last report, we have spoken to more people, held and attended more events, and encouraged more people to share their views.
We await the outcome of the inquiry next year. And our memorial discussions must, and will, continue.
Material held by the coroner
Very sadly, the nature of the fire meant that while remains were identified for all the people who passed away, some of the remains could not be identified and attributed to a particular person who had died. It was therefore not always possible to return these remains to their loved ones. Any remains that could not be identified are in the care of the coroner.
After the tragedy, the coroner met with bereaved families, and faith and community leaders. It was agreed that these remains should be laid to rest respectfully and in accordance with the families’ wishes. Early conversations indicated that this could be as part of the memorial at the site. We feel confident that the coroner will continue to support the views of the bereaved families and we are grateful for her continued engagement with the Commission. We will help to advise her on the best way this could be done.
4. What a future memorial should be like
The Grenfell Tower memorial vision statement
The Grenfell memorial will be at its heart a peaceful place. It will provide a space for reflection and remembrance of those that lost their lives, of why this tragedy happened and the need for justice.
The memorial will reflect the Grenfell community and the love within it, evoking a sense of hope and positivity that remembers the past and looks forward to the future.
It will be a place for bereaved, survivors and members of the local community to come together.
A respectful, bold and lasting memorial that honours those that lost their lives and their families, the survivors of the fire and members of the local community.
The vision statement describes what the memorial will do, created from all we have heard from people. It is the words our community have used to describe what the memorial should be like.
The vision for the memorial, and for our role as a commission, has been shaped and guided by what we have heard. When we first came together as a commission over four years ago, we started with a blank sheet of paper. Each step we have taken has come from the conversations we have had and what people have told us.
The Grenfell Tower memorial vision statement was composed after we had spoken with the Grenfell community and was updated as we continued to speak with and hear from the Grenfell community. In this final version of the vision statement, we have added that the memorial must be ‘bold’, as well as ‘lasting’. As time has passed since the tragedy, the Grenfell community has demanded – and continues to demand – that it must never be allowed to be forgotten. The memorial must never fade into the background.
As a common ground began to emerge, we incorporated the vision statement into the questions that we asked people, always checking carefully along the way that the concept that was beginning to come into view, like a flower slowly opening to reveal its beauty, was one that felt right and true for people.
What is clear from our conversations is that the memorial must be a peaceful place to remember the beautiful souls taken from us. It must not ignore justice, why the tragedy happened and how it could have been avoided. It must be a visible symbol of what happened and must never become forgotten or neglected. It must reflect the love and power of the Grenfell community and create hope and positivity for the future. The memorial will last, speaking to generations to come in the same way that it will speak to our families, friends, and loved ones, from the day it is built. It must be a place of peace and respect that holds the memory of those we lost, forever, regardless of how the world changes around us. When we speak of the memorial being in perpetuity, we mean that it should be a lasting place of remembrance that will outlive us all.
All of the ideas and thoughts shared with us by the Grenfell community are important and precious even if we are unable to include them all. What happened at Grenfell was a national tragedy but above all, it was a personal tragedy for all those who lost loved ones. We have heard clearly that a special place and status needs to go to those who have lost loved ones.
In our conversations with Lancaster West Estate and other nearby parts of the community, there was also strong support for the voices of bereaved families having the greatest weight. The overwhelming majority of the local community said that the future memorial should reflect the hope and vision of the bereaved families, while also being broadly supported by survivors and the local community.
While there were many ideas and wishes shared with us, there is agreement that the primary purpose of the memorial is to create a place where those who were taken from us can be remembered and where the tragedy that took place can be marked and kept in mind in perpetuity. That loss must be embodied in what is built.
Our previous report, Remembering Grenfell: our journey so far, shared the themes and ideas we had heard. We are confident that these have not shifted or changed, because we have continued to hear the same themes as we have spoken with and heard from more people.
The design process which we set out in this document will involve further work with the Grenfell community to shape the final design for the memorial. What we set out here represents the guidance from our community about what is most important for the memorial.
What we have heard: the vision for the memorial
The people we heard from told us how they and other members of the Grenfell community might want to use the space. This felt important to explore so that we could make the fullest possible recommendations for the creation of the memorial.
From the start of 2022, we started to ask people a question specifically about how they thought the memorial should be used to explore this more fully:
We are trying to understand more about how the memorial should be used and what should happen there. It could be a space to gather, and for memorial events, prayer, reflection, education activities and children’s activities. We also want to understand what you think shouldn’t happen there. How do you think the memorial should or shouldn’t be used?
People who shared their views with us predominantly said they want the memorial to be a place of remembering and reflecting. People also mentioned that the memorial should be a place to sit or rest in quiet contemplation.
Learning or education was also a commonly-mentioned use for the memorial, although some people shared their concerns that it should not become a tourist destination. With this in mind, the Commission has made recommendations for exploring the development of an archive situated apart from the memorial itself, some of which may be accessible only to bereaved families. This would help to tell the story of the tragedy and provide a long-lasting record for generations to come (see Beyond the memorial).
Some people suggested that the memorial should be used as a space for the community to gather, including for memorial events. A small number thought that it should be used as a space for community support like wellbeing, arts or therapy.
The site that will eventually form part of the memorial previously included a children’s play park, something that has been missing in the area since the tragedy. Reflecting this, quite a few conversations with the Grenfell community expressed the idea that the design of the memorial should be family-friendly and include space suitable for the needs of children visiting with their families. As a commission, we believe it is essential that the future memorial is accessible and supports visitors with a range of requirements. This would include cultural preferences, mobility issues and other needs.
It is the Commission’s view that the form and purpose of the memorial must carefully balance the needs of those who wish for private and peaceful remembrance in dignity and safety against any other possible uses and designed in ways that prevent its use for anti-social behaviour, dog walking, or other activities that may not respect its purpose.
The memorial should be a peaceful and reflective space
Trees, flowers and plants have already been part of the community’s response to the tragedy. Green is already our colour. Gardens, trees, flowers and plants are elements that connect the present with the future, growing, changing and becoming stronger as time passes. They feature prominently in all religious traditions and are often seen in images of paradise. This can offer hope, to some of the bereaved, that their love for those they lost will live forever.
Landscapes and gardens require care and nurturing, always the same but always different, marking the seasons and the passage of time. The tragedy destroyed the peace and safety that our community had and cut short lives that would have grown and blossomed. Gardens help us to breathe and provide homes for insects, birds and other animals. What is planted blooms, and what is cared for and nurtured, flourishes.
Planting, growing and tending have formed part of the journey our community has taken in responding to the horrific events we have endured. Hope Gardens, The Tea Garden, The Grenfell Garden of Peace and more have brought people together in nature. Inspired by our community drawing from nature, since the third anniversary we have planted a new tree at the memorial wall each year. We began with a bay tree, symbolising courage, strength, wisdom and protection. The fourth anniversary was an olive tree, symbolising life, renewal, resilience and peace. The fifth anniversary brought a pine tree, symbolising peace, longevity and steadfastness. This year, the sixth anniversary was marked by a rosemary tree, the symbol of love and remembrance.
A garden or landscape was by far the most common suggestion from the Grenfell community, in conversations when an idea about the form of the memorial was mentioned.
A place to sit, reflect and for the community to come together came up in over half the conversations we had with bereaved families and survivors. A third of the conversations we had with the community mentioned similar ideas.
Peace, reflection and contemplation can be both collective and individual, and the memorial should reflect this. Spaces and places can feel peaceful and can be designed in ways that provide opportunities and features that make us feel we can take time to think, to remember and to be at peace with ourselves or to share quiet moments with others.
Case study: Hope Gardens
Hope Gardens is a quiet sanctuary in the shadow of the A40. The memorial garden was created on a piece of wasteland, ’organically inherited by the community’ as project leader, Marcia Robinson describes it. Hope Gardens is faced by The Wall of Truth, the place where people first came together when the tragedy occurred, and provides a peaceful space to support visitors. Volunteers help to maintain the garden. It’s a place of peace, reflection and calm, a physical space that reflects a collective care, healing and community. Seating, plants and trees create a space where people can relax.
Hope Gardens has almost finished planting 72 trees that represent the brave men, women and children who died in the Grenfell tragedy. All of the anniversaries of the Grenfell tragedy have been marked in the gardens, and the green and quiet space has provided somewhere for people to talk, breathe and support each other after the Grenfell Silent Walks. Weekly gardening sessions, peer support groups, cultural and other celebrations are also held there.
The memorial should be a respectful place and a place of remembrance
The future memorial will honour those that we lost. It will be a place for the Grenfell community to pay their respects and reflect on their own experiences. It will symbolise our community’s sadness and also our hope for better todays and better tomorrows. The individual names of those who were taken from us could form a part of the memorial if their family members and loved ones feel that this is appropriate. We know from discussions with other memorials that this subject is often difficult and deeply personal for families, and it must be approached respectfully.
Bereaved families have raised vital points about remembrance, such as working with the coroner to consider how the unidentified remains from the tragedy might be laid to rest. (See Material held by the coroner.)
Some of the bereaved families and survivors we spoke to mentioned a place for children or young people, as did some of the immediate community. The tragedy took away many children and deeply affected many others. They must be recognised in the memorial.
Grenfell Tower was home to some of us and our families, and the neighbouring streets are home to many of us. The tragedy will always be part of our children’s, and their future children’s, lives. The memorial will be part of their growth and, for some of us, of our daily lives.
It has been suggested that the memorial could provide an area private to families to grieve and honour their loved ones.
As mentioned, the Commission has met and learned from a number of other memorials, such as the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York. We discovered that some of those memorials have private spaces that can only be accessed by bereaved family members and which are not open for anyone else to visit. Arrangements are in place to preserve the sacred, private nature of these spaces.
The memorial should be a place of hope and positivity
Hope and positivity came through as a theme in speaking to the Grenfell community. (See The main themes that came up.) The community has endured a horrific tragedy and will never cease to remember those who died. Hope and positivity reflect growth, renewal, and the celebration of the incredible strength we found within ourselves and within our community.
From the tragedy, our community experienced a cruel, unjust and unimaginable loss. Somehow, we found the strength to build and grow and support and care for each other, and for ourselves, while living daily with the reminder of what had happened and waiting for answers to the question of why.
Case study: The Grenfell Garden of Peace and Grow2Know
In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy, promising young footballer Tayshan Hayden-Smith began gardening as a way to process his grief and anger in an unloved patch in Maxilla, a space in which people would congregate, unify and gather. He was one of many who found comfort through community activism, spending time and sharing knowledge to help bring green spaces to life. The garden beneath the Westway became known as the Grenfell Garden of Peace, which then evolved to become Hope Gardens.
In 2020, Tayshan formed the community interest company Grow2Know. They created gardens in two schools, reclaimed four community spaces, and partnered with The Natural History Museum, the Royal Horticultural Society, Penguin and Nike.
Grow2Know brings together gardening, design and social justice. In 2022, Grow2Know won Silver Gilt at The Chelsea Flower Show for the Hands Off Mangrove Garden, a garden addressing both racist injustice and ecological destruction.
Speaking to the Royal Horticultural Society, Tayshan said his journey from football to horticulture began with the tragedy: “My love for gardening started in response to a massive tragedy, the Grenfell Tower Fire. I live beneath the tower, on the same estate, born and raised. The night it caught fire I lost friends, community, neighbours. A lot of local people took to artwork, but that didn’t really work for me.”
“Then I saw this neglected, unloved green space. My son, my partner and I cleared it up and it became a gardening space. Neighbours would walk past, see us gardening and engage with us, whether it was sharing a smile, or a conversation or an offer of their time to help out. It was really empowering for me as a young 20-year-old. It was a way of dealing with trauma and a form of self-expression. It was like plants were paint and the garden was the canvas.”
Tayshan adds: “Even gardening itself is a form of activism – you can plant a seed in people’s minds.”
Hope and positivity may not seem easy to bring together with remembrance and respect. But, as a community, this is what we have lived through these past six years: without losing our sense of grief, loss and the memory of what has happened, the belief that the next day or the one after will be better than the days that come before.
The memorial should be a place of community and love
Community and love were other themes that people expressed to us. As with positivity and hope, community and love reflect the Grenfell community as it is now. In the face of impossible pain, we have cared for and found strength in each other. We have remembered and honoured pain with the kindness and generosity of our unique community.
As the tragedy unfolded, our local faith leaders opened the doors of their places of worship to those in need. They quickly began to distribute clothes, food, and water. People from many different faith groups brought food. Faith centres made their spaces available for prayer, reflection and sanctuary from horror and crisis, as well as offering emotional support and prayer. As the months and years have passed, our faith groups have provided faith-sensitive support, prayer groups, and support for children, as well as practical and emotional support through the long and tough times that our community has lived through. The Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, St Clement’s Church, Notting Hill Methodist Church, St Francis of Assisi and Latymer Community Church, among others, provided immediate support, and as the days turned into weeks and then months, helped coordinate donations and support. The connections, respect and relationships that already knitted our community together were strengthened and deepened as they stepped up to the greatest challenge our community has ever faced.
Community and love went hand in hand with spontaneous outpourings of art, memorials and tributes. Since the tragedy, our community has claimed spaces and sites in the spirit of remembrance, memory and justice. Under the Westway, the arches are filled with banners and artwork from the Silent Walks. The Wall of Truth is home to paintings, testimony, prayers, messages and graffiti. Ladbroke Grove station is home to Paprika Williams’ clay hearts. The Superhero Wall runs along the edge of what was once the playground next to Grenfell Tower. Balconies, windows and gardens remain adorned with hearts, banners and ribbons. The memorial garden outside St Clement’s church reminds all who passed of the love of the community and its sadness and loss. These grassroots memorials continue to grow and evolve year by year.
The Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic, coordinated by the Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art (ACAVA) and the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, is mounted on the temporary hoarding around Grenfell Tower. It attracts flowers, artworks, felt tip pen messages, prayer offerings and personal tributes.
The Walking as One mosaic paving stones, installed in June 2022, mark the path of the Silent Walk, sharing the word ‘justice’ in many of the languages spoken by members of the Grenfell community.
Across London, across the country and across the world, artworks have commemorated in solidarity and recognition what we have lost.
Many of the conversations we had with the Grenfell community mentioned artwork or a monument.
Monuments, the names of those that died, and artwork are all ways that we can create things that express our memory, provide focus for others to remember and which tell a history through emotions and experiences and sensations.
As we said in our 2022 report:
“The loss is too great. The pain is too much. The injustice is too profound. It’s like looking into the sun.”
What we cannot put into words, we can make visible through art. Art is a mirror, a witness, a way to say and feel what cannot be said.
On 14 June 2023, six years after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we released a film exploring the role of art in remembrance. The filmlooked at the ways the Grenfell community has used art to reflect and help hold our community’s anguish with dignity, gentleness and grace. As Ismahan Egal, of Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, says in our film: “To have played a small part in facilitating something [‘Walking as One’] that will outlive us, I think is really powerful”.
Case study: Walking as One
The Grenfell Memorial Community Mosaic is an art project that has brought hundreds of local people together to make large-scale public mosaics.
Co-created by different community, resident, faith and school groups, along with individual participants, under the guidance of two commissioned artists, the project has enabled people to connect and to memorialise the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The programme was initiated in 2018 by arts education charity ACAVA in partnership with Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre.
The first two artworks, Bloom and Bloom II, are installed on the hoarding of Grenfell Tower. Walking as One is the culmination of the four-year initiative and sees 39 mosaics permanently installed in the streets to create pavement way-markers along the route of the Grenfell Silent Walk.
Case study: Paprika’s clayhearts
Outside Ladbroke Grove station, the mural of ceramics by local artist, Paprika Skala-Williams, sets hand-crafted hearts into an ordinary brick wall next to a busy road. It has a sibling facing Hope Gardens.
“Clay is this amazing medium, it’s kind of a piece of earth,” says Paprika. “Giving this piece of clay to people is not only giving them opportunity to be part of the bigger picture but also to express their feelings for this tragedy. There is something in human beings… when there is tragedy, we do stick together and form this kind of hive of comfort. This heavy weight is lifted by being together and creating something meaningful.”
The memorial, now and for future generations, must capture the love that is the basis for both anger at injustice, and duty and regard for those around us. In its creation, in its maintenance and in its physical structure, the memorial must be a place of love for those who we lost, those who have lost and for our community as a whole. A place that is ours, both for us and for those who come after us.
5. Features suggested by the Grenfell community
Water is a universal symbol of life, renewal and spiritual and physical sustenance. Water cleanses. Without water, plants wither and die. For the Grenfell community, water became a symbol of care and concern for each other in the days after the 14 June 2017. For example, through the provision of bottled water for those who needed it.
Throughout history and across cultures, water and gardens have held special significance as places of remembrance and of celebration. For many, water is soothing, restful and calming.
Water, as an element of the memorial, was frequently mentioned by bereaved family members and survivors, and also came up in many of our conversations with other parts of the Grenfell community. The significant lack of water on the night of 14 June 2017 was also mentioned.
The names of our loved ones
The individuals who were taken from us must never be forgotten. The memorial is needed because they are no longer here. Many bereaved family members, as well as others across the Grenfell community, have said that the memorial should include the names of those we have lost to the tragedy. Not all bereaved families may wish for this to happen, but all must have that choice.
In the memorial to the people killed in the 2011 massacre on the island of Utøya in Norway, a steel ring stands in a clearing inscribed with most of the names of those who lost their lives. Alice M. Greenwald of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum advised the designers of the Utøya memorial to leave spaces on the memorial, so that any bereaved family who wishes to can have their loved one’s name inscribed at a later date, should their feelings change.
We have also seen memorials, such as the memorial to those lost in the MV Sewol tragedy, where bereaved families have placed objects or other details within a memorial, and which they feel best represent the memory of the loved ones taken from them.
Case study: remembering the MV Sewol tragedy
On the morning of 16 April 2014, the ferry MV Sewol sank while travelling towards Jeju in South Korea. This was South Korea’s largest maritime tragedy. Of the 304 people who died in the disaster, 250 were students from Danwon High School in Ansan City and11 were teachers.
There are several memorials to those whose lives were lost.
The colour yellow, and particularly a yellow ribbon, are symbols of the tragedy, as well as being a universal symbol for missing people. (Yellow ribbons were tied to railings close to Grenfell Tower in the immediate days after 14 June 2017.)
Originally, the bereaved families had wanted to preserve the original classrooms within Danwon High School in memory of their children. This idea was rejected by parents of children currently at the school, so an alternative site was found where all the fixtures and fittings from the original classrooms were removed and painstakingly recreated. The final space was opened in 2021 as 4.16 Institute of Democratic Citizenship Education.
The memorial has the following features, including approaches to personalisation and maintenance:
- Overlooking Danwon High School is a beautiful sculpture of a whale, which is represented as taking the souls of the victims to heaven. Atits tail is a yellow post-box where families and other visitors are invited to leave tributes which are laminated and incorporated into a display at the entrance.
- Bereaved family members are involved in the curation of the memorial and in conducting tours in collaboration with the 4.16 Memory Archives.
- The desk of each child who passed away is decorated with personal effects by their family, and a QR code on each desk links to a digital memorial site with individual accounts of each of the children. The empty desks represent those who survived. Tours of 4.16 Memorial Classroom are conducted by bereaved mothers wearing yellow high-vis jackets. The bereaved families have also taken responsibility for leading tours closer to where the disaster happened, near the Paengmok ferry port.
- The enormity of the loss is emphasised to visitors when the names of all 250 students and 11teachers who drowned are recited at the end of a video presentation.
- There are memory lockers or keepsake boxes as a form of art installation. Each illuminated space is curated by a bereaved family to display some of their child’s personal belongings, which recognises the unimaginable loss of these young lives.
- There is a memorial garden on the roof of the 4.16 Memorial Classroom.
- Lessons about the disaster have also been included in the school curriculum so all Korean children will learn what happened and what is required to prevent such tragedy happening again in the future.
Names at the 9/11 Memorial in New York
Prior to its opening in 2011 on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the National September 11 Memorial underwent a multi-year process to verify and arrange the names that would be inscribed into the memorial’s bronze parapets. All inscribed names represent 9/11 attack victims as determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York: people who died as a direct result of injury sustained in the attacks on 11 September 2001, including the impact of the planes and the buildings’ collapse. The names are grouped by the locations and circumstances in which victims found themselves during the attacks.
During the memorial’s development, those bereaved were invited to request that their loved ones’ names be inscribed alongside specific others. Friends and colleagues appear together, as well as the crews of each of the four flights and first responder agencies and units. In this way, those who were connected in life also reside together on the memorial.
A new building or structure
Grenfell Tower and the land on which it stands will never be used for the purpose of housing.
Incorporating a new building or structure as part of the memorial was mentioned in around a third of conversations we had with bereaved families and survivors, where the form of the memorial was discussed. It was mentioned less often during conversations with the other parts of the Grenfell community.
In about half of the conversations where a building or structure was mentioned, people suggested a formal building such as a museum or café. The other half of conversations mentioned a structure that would provide visitors with protection from the rain or sun, as well as providing a space for collective and personal reflection, hand washing or other facilities.
A structure providing practical support to those visiting the memorial was mentioned more to us than a building like a museum or café. Since a garden was the most commonly mentioned ‘form’ for the memorial from bereaved and survivors and also from the local community, we envision that a structure might sit within this garden space.
Whether a building forms part of the final memorial design is yet to be agreed by the Grenfell community, but these practical considerations must be taken into account when considering the memorial design. This was something the Commission saw during our visit to the Aberfan Disaster Memorial Garden, which features a structure – albeit separate to the memorial itself – to protect visitors from the weather.
Some of the conversations we have had with the Grenfell community have said very clearly that they would not like the memorial to become a tourist destination.
While a new building may form part of a final memorial design, because of the other views about the form and use of the memorial, the Commission recommends exploring options for an exhibition or archive in another place that people can visit. (See Beyond the memorial).
Aberfan: sustainability, continuity and management over time
The Aberfan disaster was the catastrophic collapse of a colliery spoil tip on 21 October 1966, killing 116 children and 28 adults as it engulfed Pantglas Junior School and nearby houses.
The rawness of feelings may have subsided for many, but for others it has not gone away. While most of the bereaved parents are no longer alive, there are still many siblings, next of kin and survivors, as well as the wider community, who will never forget and who remain affected. (The full extent of the psychological impact, of any tragedy, can sometimes only be seen a long time after the event.)
The Aberfan Disaster Memorial Garden was created on the site of Pantglas School and was opened in 1969. A small section of the school playground wall has been retained in the memorial garden while the other walls evoke the former layout of the school.
At the Aberfan Cemetery Memorial, which was renovated extensively in 2007, most of the victims are buried side by side in two rows, each grave marked with linked archways carved in pearl white granite. The names of all 144 victims are inscribed on a large granite cross at the cemetery memorial, where there is also an enclosed garden for quiet reflection.
When the memorial garden and the cemetery memorial were created over 50 years ago, some of the materials had a finite life span. Asa result, not long after the 40th anniversary, extensive works were carried out over 18 months at the cemetery memorial, mainly replacing the previous stone materials with pearl white granite.
Later, in 2019, work was undertaken to replace the walls at the memorial garden. The National Botanic Garden of Wales was involved in designing and planting the current bee-friendly garden. The memorial garden design now incorporates reclaimed and recycled materials, such as stone from disused local bridges for the walls, and benches made from recycled plastic bags, which also reduced the level of maintenance required.
The Aberfan Memorial Charity always aims to plan long-term. The charity (and its predecessor, the Aberfan Disaster Fund) has had four chairs in more than 50 years, and for most of that time, just two. Trustees have remained in post for decades, maintaining a long and deep involvement and commitment. Continuity is important and the charity is focused too, on who will come next to carry on its work.
Maintaining memorials permanently means taking decisions that have implications into the future. Funding needs to be carefully managed, as do relationships. David Davies JP, chairman of the charity, explains that they aim to “get it right at least most of the time” by which they mean “there is rarely a right answer, but often a least worst one.” Managing a memorial over time is about planning and trying as much as possible to think about the implication of decisions decades down the line.
When renovating the cemetery memorial and then the memorial garden, trustees – in consultation with next of kin – chose materials for longevity, focusing on creating and maintaining the memorial sites to last for generations to come, selecting elements where the upkeep and maintenance are sustainable and where ongoing costs are prudently managed.
There is an Aberfan Archive at the National Library in Aberystwyth, and the Aberfan Disaster is studied as part of the national curriculum in schools in Wales. The charity maintains links with next of kin, keeping them informed when major works are being planned or when a milestone anniversary is coming up.
“To those we love and miss so much.”
Dedicated to the 116 children and 28 adults who lost their lives, 21 October 1966.
To those we love and miss so very much.
I’r rhai a garwn ac y galarwn o’u colli.
Light has become a part of the ongoing memorialisation of the Grenfell tragedy, including in the regular illumination of Grenfell Tower. In 2022 and 2023, 72 beams of light shone up into the night sky from the Tower, to mark the memory of those 72 loved ones who were taken from us so suddenly.
Around a tenth of conversations with bereaved family members and survivors, and smaller numbers from the rest of the Grenfell community, mentioned the use of light as a possible part of the memorial.
Light can show the absence of something by creating an illuminated impression of where it once was. Light dispels darkness and signifies hope. Light brings attention, impact and visibility.
Tribute in Light: New York
Tribute in Light is a public art piece that commemorates the 2,983 people who were killed in the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy in New York. Each year on the anniversary of the attack, depending on the weather conditions, the twin beams can reach as high as four miles into the sky.
Tribute in Light was launched as a temporary installation to mark the six-month anniversary of the attack on 11 March 2002, in a vacant area across from Ground Zero, but has since moved to alternate sites and become an annual fixture. 88 high-powered bulbs are assembled in two 48-foot squares which echo the shape and form of the Twin Towers, and the beams can be seen for up to 60 miles.
As we publish this report, Grenfell Tower remains standing. It remains as a visible symbol of what we have lost and what was taken from us in one tragic night. Everyone who regularly uses the A40 passes it with each journey. It remains a focus for remembrance both for the anniversary and throughout the year.
Some of the Grenfell community have expressed a desire for height, including the height of Grenfell Tower, to form part of the memorial. That might include conserving some of the Tower in some way. Others have said that usage of the Tower in any form would be unacceptable. Some bereaved families have talked about the importance of the view their loved ones had from their homes in Grenfell Tower and this is something we have heard from some survivors as well. Capturing this or a sense of this will also be important.
In our conversations we have heard concern that removal of Grenfell Tower may create an “out of sight, out of mind” situation, leading to the fading of popular memory of the tragedy.
Visibility, in whatever form this might take, would provide a reminder of our community’s loss and of the tragedy, which must never be forgotten.
It is also important to note here that a large number of people, particularly the immediate community, have told us that living with the current form of Grenfell Tower places a huge strain on their mental health. Children have grown up in the literal shadow of Grenfell Tower. Students at Kensington Aldridge Academy and St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School study and learn as Grenfell Tower overlooks them.
Whether or not it is viable to use the structure or parts of Grenfell Tower as part of the memorial, the Commission recommends that height and visibility should be considered within the future designs for the memorial. We encourage a creative approach to how this could be achieved including the possibility of using light or other ways to create the appearance of height. Any ideas will need to consider maintaining the peace of the memorial, the concern raised by some about the memorial becoming a tourist attraction, and the needs of those living nearby.
6. The use of elements from Grenfell Tower in the memorial
In our conversations with the Grenfell community, we heard thoughts about whether, and how, elements from Grenfell Tower could or should be used – either as part of the memorial or in other forms of memorialisation such as an archive or other public collection.
As we have said elsewhere in this report, Grenfell Tower is still standing as we publish this report.
As part of the commitment to keep Grenfell Tower stable and secure, everything from within the Tower was carefully removed and has been stored respectfully and safely.
All personal belongings that could be safely returned to bereaved family members and survivors have now been returned.
Everything recovered from Grenfell Tower is part of the story of the people taken from us and of the incredible strength and loss of those people who survived. It is unthinkable that any elements of Grenfell Tower will be disposed of or destroyed without consultation, in particular with bereaved families and survivors, and this will not happen.
When we talk about how elements of Grenfell Tower could be included as part of a memorial, aside from the Grenfell Tower structure itself, we are thinking about the following two categories:
These are parts of the structure of the Tower which could be preserved or repurposed in a way that is safe and which recognisably retains their original form, texture or construction. This includes items such as the 14 pillars which support Grenfell Tower and the concrete crown on the roof of Grenfell Tower. These features were unique to Grenfell Tower, and were covered up by its refurbishment.
- Architecturally significant aspects of Grenfell Tower
This includes items such as the Grenfell Tower sign, tiles from the lobby areas, wood from the trees outside Grenfell Tower, the Superhero Wall and other items from communal areas.
- Items from communal areas in Grenfell Tower and the surrounding area which were not owned by any single family or former resident
Other Grenfell Tower elements to highlight:
- Personal items that were not returned to families
The process of returning personal property to the bereaved families and survivors was completed some ago. Any property that could be safely recovered was returned to the bereaved and survivors, if that was their choice.
The horrific intensity of the tragedy left some items in a state where they were hazardous to health. They could therefore not be viably and safely returned to individuals and families, and nor can they form part of a future memorial.
- Materials held by police for evidential purposes
This refers to the elements from Grenfell Tower that are currently held as part of ongoing investigations. It is our assumption that these would not form part of a future memorial.
What we have heard about the use of elements
To explore more fully people’s feelings about the use of elements from Grenfell Tower in the memorial, from January 2022 we began to ask people whether they would or would not like to see them included in the final memorial:
Some of the ideas we have heard incorporate elements from the Tower and the site as part of the memorial design. A decision on the future of the Tower is for the government, and it has committed that the Commission can re-use some elements if the community wants this. We know this is sensitive and we will be taking time to discuss this with bereaved families in particular.
Far fewer people shared views around the use of elements of Grenfell Tower in the memorial than shared views about how it should feel and be used.
While some of the people we have heard from feel that some things that were recovered from Grenfell Tower, or parts of Grenfell Tower itself, should form part of the memorial, others do not agree.
Of the small number of bereaved family members who provided a view, just over half said they would like elements from Grenfell Tower or the site to be included in the memorial. Around a third said they would not like this to happen, and the remainder said they were not sure.
We have heard from a very small number of survivors and former residents on this topic, with half of them saying they would not like elements from Grenfell Tower or the site to be included in the memorial.
A small proportion of people who answered ‘yes’ to using elements of Grenfell Tower clarified that they would like the Tower to remain standing. Some said that they would like the Tower to remain with flowers and plants. If it is not possible for the Tower to remain standing, they said they would like a significant remnant to remain.
Some people suggested that they would like the footprint of the Tower to be used in the memorial (similar to the 9/11 Tribute in Light).
We know that other memorials have used elements of buildings involved in the tragedies for which they mark remembrance. The 9/11 Memorial Glade in New York features six large stone monoliths, each inlaid with remnant World Trade Center steel, symbolising strength through adversity.
Views on this sensitive topic are divided, and the use of elements will be carefully approached during the development of design options, particularly with bereaved families and survivors. With such a delicate question, the Commission holds in mind advice we have received from other memorials that the process of developing a fitting and lasting memorial is a process of gentle, open exploration and dialogue where the best answer comes slowly into view on the back of many discussions.
How will decisions be made about using elements from Grenfell Tower in the memorial?
The Commission is considering the following three factors in deciding whether any element from Grenfell Tower can be used in the memorial. Each will involve the guidance of a different set of people.
This will be informed by engineers and other professionals who judge whether a particular element, including structural elements of Grenfell Tower, can practically and safely be used in an intended way.
- Is it technically viable to use this element?
This will be informed by and decided with an independent team of conservation specialists, which provides the Commission with advice and expertise. This team will advise whether an intended element can be used safely and sustainably.
- Is it possible to conserve this element?
Decisions about acceptability will be made by bereaved family members, survivors and the Grenfell community about whether the use of any element from Grenfell Tower in a particular way is appropriate to their wishes. Bereaved family members and survivors will have a special place in making these decisions.
- Is it acceptable to use this element?
What we know with absolute certainty is that we want a memorial that is there for generations. We also know decisions relating to use of any aspect of Grenfell Tower will always be incredibly sensitive. The decision about the future of Grenfell Tower itself is one for the government, but equally we know that Grenfell Tower cannot remain forever in its current form. The government published engineering advice in May 2021, which said that the Tower is significantly damaged, and particularly so above the 10th floor.
We recognise that, as we work towards a design for a memorial, further work will be needed to understand exactly what is viable and possible. That may include seeking our own independent engineering advice to help us and our community to understand what could be possible.
We know this is a hugely difficult area with many different views within the Grenfell community. In the coming months, we will all need to work through how we can respect the sensitivities on all sides. The design process, set out on pages 72 to 75, will make sure the Grenfell community can better understand what is viable, what is possible and then, most importantly, agree together what is and is not acceptable.
What will happen to elements from Grenfell Tower not used in the memorial?
As we have heard from bereaved families, survivors and other parts of the Grenfell community, we have also taken advice and undertaken our own research. The Commission now recognises that the act of memorialisation includes far more than Grenfell Tower and the site that surrounds it.
The Commission recognises that all elements from Grenfell Tower are sacred and must be conserved if this is technically viable, possible and acceptable. Elements from Grenfell Tower that can be conserved safely will never be disposed of without the knowledge of the Grenfell community and must be stored in a place that is safe and secure.
The Commission recommends:
- Elements that cannot be retained as part of the memorial and which are not to be conserved must be safely and respectfully laid to rest at a second site. This site must be appropriate, accessible and sacred, and agreed with bereaved family members and survivors. This should be a place that the bereaved and survivors may visit, which is given over for this purpose, and which is separate from the memorial at the Grenfell Tower site itself. We ask the government to work with the mayor of London to identify such a site.
- The development of an archive should be explored, with some elements potentially only accessible to bereaved family members and survivors, at a site that can ensure appropriate levels of long-term care and access.
- A sensitive and reflective digital archive should be curated with family members and survivors.
- Further discussions should be held on the viability, possibility and acceptability of a future public exhibition or museum space.
Both the archiving, and museum or exhibition, will tell the story of the tragedy to visitors in ways that do not obscure the quest for justice or take away from the pain that will always remain. Decisions about how to conserve different elements will be made alongside bereaved families and survivors. This conservation will be the ongoing process of safeguarding all of the objects which people wish to keep and preserve in ways that are appropriate and which do not take those objects, memorials and places away from the ownership of those to whom they are most intimately connected.
7. Beyond the memorial
It has become clear to the Commission that creating a bold, fitting and lasting memorial at the site of Grenfell Tower to those taken from us is only part of our duty to remembering those who were lost.
While the memorial will make sure those taken from us are never forgotten, the previously-described elements from Grenfell Tower and the spontaneous outpourings of art, tributes and other physical manifestations of the response of our community to the tragedy must also not be lost to time.
The Commission is committed to conserving these objects as an important historical duty.
The Commission also believes it is important for the Grenfell community to tell the story of what happened to us through the use of these objects.
Conservation of artworks and spontaneous memorials
The Commission is aware that many existing memorials, forged in anger, sadness and shock by the community, remain around Grenfell Tower. These spontaneous outpourings of creativity, solidarity and loss are exposed to the elements and may be lost over time. These memorials, artworks and signs of grief and anger will always belong to the community. They must not be lost, but they must also not be taken and hidden away.
Many of our memorials are in places the community has claimed, but which the community does not legally own. They grew like flowers where the soil could hold them. These memorials have provided comfort to the community and should be protected and preserved. Many of the existing memorials have already been damaged by exposure to wind and rain and sun. As we said in our previous report: “They will live long in our memories, but they may not be there for our children’s children.”
Particular thought is being given to the best way to preserve the Grenfell Memorial Wall, which has become a focus for so many of our acts of remembrance, so that it may last for years into the future. The Memorial Wall is part of the temporary hoardings that currently surround the site of Grenfell Tower and is currently exposed to the elements. It is unlikely to be viable to preserve the Grenfell Memorial Wall exactly as it is in its current location.
The Commission is already undertaking a process to work with the Grenfell community to safeguard and preserve these memorials, and we will urge central and local government to take steps to support this process.
Conservation will be the ongoing process of safeguarding all of the objects which people wish to keep and preserve in ways that are appropriate and which do not take those objects, memorials and places away from the ownership of those to whom they are most intimately connected.
Over time, and with the Grenfell community, the Commission recommends the exploration of the creation of a permanent archive to safeguard the temporary and spontaneous memorials that have been part of our community’s collective response to the horrific events we have endured. We also recommend that this archive, in collaboration with the Grenfell community, could form the basis for a digital memorial and public exhibition or museum.
The Commission is working with a group of conservation experts to develop options for what this might look like. We are also in the process of appointing a community archivist, who will contribute recommendations on how best the many tributes to those no longer with us might be preserved. We anticipate being able to share initial ideas and findings with the Grenfell community in 2024, and we will keep the community informed as the archivist’s work progresses. As with considerations about elements from Grenfell Tower, any decisions will be based upon what is viable, what is possible from a conservation perspective, and the wishes of the Grenfell community.
Case study: ‘Survivor Tree’
A Callery pear tree became known as the ‘Survivor Tree’ after enduring the 11 September 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center.
In October 2001, a severely damaged tree was discovered at Ground Zero, with snapped roots and burned and broken branches. Today, the tree stands as a living reminder of resilience, survival, and rebirth. Each year, the 9/11 Memorial gives seedlings from the Survivor Tree to three communities that have endured tragedy in recent years to serve as landmarks symbolising resiliency and hope.
In 2017, the 9/11 Memorial gifted a sapling from the tree to the bereaved families, the survivors, and all those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy in memory of those who lost their lives.
The inclusion of the Survivor Tree in the future Grenfell memorial, or as part of off-site memorialisation, will be considered as part of design options and in consultation with the community.
The Manchester Together Archive
The Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017 etched itself deeply into the hearts and hopes of the people of Manchester. After the bombing, which killed 22 people and injured 1,017, people created memorials and laid more than 10,000 items in spontaneous memorials in St Ann’s Square and elsewhere in Manchester.
In June 2017, the spontaneous memorial objects were removed, and wherever possible, elements were used in acts of broader remembrance. Flowers were composted and some of this compost was used to plant the “trees of hope”, plants were found new homes across the city, soft toys that people had left were washed and donated to charities, candles were melted to create 22 new candles given to the families of the 22 people who were killed at the attack.
Over 10,000 objects (such as notes, letters, drawings, cards, sculptures, toys and t-shirts) were collected and kept in a storage space at Manchester Art Gallery.
Partners in Manchester, including the Gallery, Archives+ and the University of Manchester are documenting and digitising the memorial objects to create the Manchester Together Archive.
The archive also includes oral histories and testimonies, social media content and the 30,000 notes that people left on the Trees of Hope trail, which marked the first anniversary of the attack.
The Manchester Together Archive project has received grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The National Archives to document, digitise and make available online the objects collected from the spontaneous memorials in Manchester after the Arena bombing.
The Manchester Together Archive is involved in a range of academic projects and research around the archive, including an international network of Archives of Spontaneous Memorials.
Those touched by the Grenfell tragedy are spread across London, the country and the world. Digital memorialisation is the act of creating an online place that can be visited virtually by bereaved families, survivors, the wider community and the world.
Such an online place can contain far more information than a physical memorial can, and it can be visited by larger numbers of people.
The Commission is aware of a number of digital memorial sites across the world, where objects and artefacts related to tragic events are digitised and catalogued.
We recommend that work should begin on the initial stages of exploring a digital memorial, working with the Grenfell community, colleagues in conservation and archiving, as well as experts in forensic architecture, to establish what a digital space could look and feel like. This online space will tell the story of our community, our togetherness and our loss in a way that is accessible 24 hours a day to anyone who wishes to learn more. Visitors will be able to experience a range of meaningful objects, testimonies and documents related to the path our community has taken through tragedy and loss and beyond.
The September 11 Digital Archive
The September 11 Digital Archive was an innovative use of electronic media to collect, preserve, and present the history of the terrorist attack in 2001 and its aftermath. Launched through a partnership of two American universities, one based in NewYorkCity and the other located in a suburb of Washington DC.
The archive contains more than 150,000 digital items primarily gathered in the first year after the tragedy, but also includes items from more recent anniversaries. It is made up of more than 40,000 emails and other electronic communications, and includes over 40,000 first-hand stories, and more than 15,000 digital images. Creators of these electronic communications vary from individuals to organisations, and from news providers to contributors of response reflections and online tributes.
As the archive website says: “Our goal is to create a permanent record of the events of September 11, 2001. To these ends the Archive has partnered with the Library of Congress, which, in September 2003, accepted a copy of the Archive into its permanent collections – an event that both ensured the Archive’s long-term preservation and marked the library’s first major digital acquisition.”
The archive curates collections of items so that they can easily be browsed by visitors. It has required funds to transfer digital items into new forms and to make the website itself more stable and usable for visitors. Since its original donation to the Library of Congress, the Archive has been migrated to a next generation of software as well as reloaded onto a website supported by a more stable user platform, in order to maintain its efficient, safe access by researchers.
A physical museum, collection or exhibition
The memorial will be a place to remember those no longer with us and to reflect the strength our community showed in the face of tragedy. Part of making sure that a tragedy like ours never happens again is education and telling the story of what happened to our community, how our loved ones were taken from us and what happened next, for now and forever.
While some people suggested a museum or learning space as part of the memorial site, this was mentioned far less often than a landscape or garden.
The Commission heard concerns from some people in the Grenfell community about the memorial becoming a tourist destination. We conclude that a permanent collection of tributes, memories, documents and important physical objects related to the Grenfell tragedy should not be placed at the memorial site itself.
The Commission instead recommends that a permanent museum, archive or collection be created at another site in London, easily accessible to the public and created together with the Grenfell community. This should comprise a private archive of all items that can safely be preserved in line with the wishes of bereaved families, survivors and the Grenfell community and a public exhibition that uses physical objects which remained after the tragedy. This will preserve and also communicate a moment in history that must never be allowed to happen again.
Our recommendation also involves possible collaborations with existing museum spaces, rather than necessarily suggesting that a new museum be built from scratch.
Other ways of ‘memorialising’ – nationally and locally
We have heard from many in the Grenfell community about the importance of the Grenfell Tower tragedy never being forgotten. A few people have suggested that there should be a “national day” to reflect the magnitude of this tragedy in the nation’s history, and to mark the Grenfell community’s strength, unity and support for one another. We ask the government to speak with the Grenfell community and to consider how this might be achieved. We ask that they learn from others who have done this before, such as the team behind Stephen Lawrence Day.
A small number of people in the Grenfell community have said that that the terrible events at Grenfell Tower should be reflected at Latimer Road station. This is the closest tube station to the Tower and would likely be the main station used by those visiting the future memorial. The Commission had a positive discussion with the mayor of London about this earlier this year. We have asked him to work with the Grenfell community to agree how something may be done at the station that reflects the wishes of bereaved families and other parts of the Grenfell community.
8. The Commission’s proposal for ownership
The question of who will own the memorial is in some ways simple. The memorial will always belong to the memory of those who were lost and their families left behind, those who survived and the community that bore witness to the tragedy. It will always belong to the Grenfell community and to those who share and feel solidarity with the tragedy our community has endured.
The memorial will be a physical space which will need to be nurtured, supported and maintained over time. In the same way that a child needs people and community around them to grow and be safe, the memorial will need guardians to protect and support it over the years to come.
The Grenfell Tower site is currently owned by the government. A special legal restriction – a restrictive covenant – is in place to protect the Grenfell Tower site so that it can’t be used in ways that go against the wishes of the community. The government has promised that it will transfer ownership of the land to a body determined by the community once the site has been prepared for future use.
To safeguard, preserve and maintain the memorial for the future, there are five elements of ownership that are important:
- Who makes decisions to safeguard and nurture the memorial in perpetuity
- What kind of structure needs to be in place to put decisions into action and to manage resources like money
- How bereaved families, survivors and the rest of the Grenfell community’s views and ideas are respected and included in any arrangement
- The need for a legally recognised entity to take legal ownership of the land
- The financial stability and sustainability of the body or organisation who takes on management and ownership
The views we have heard about ownership
Who should have ownership and responsibility for the memorial into the future is a complicated question. We have spoken with far fewer people from the Grenfell community about who should make decisions about the future memorial and its maintenance, than we have about how the memorial should feel and what it should be used for. Ownership should be seen in its broadest sense, in terms of who will have legal responsibility for management of the memorial and also how decisions will be made about the memorial and its upkeep over time.
It can be hard to think about what it will be like when the memorial has been built, and to picture the local area when the memorial has been in place for 10, 20 years or more. It’s hard to think about the future of the memorial when the memorial is yet to take shape.
In earlier phases of speaking and listening to people, we didn’t ask specifically about ownership and management, but people did make comments about this when replying to more general questions about the memorial.
Starting in January 2022, we asked bereaved family members, survivors and other members of the Grenfell community the question:
The Commission is responsible for understanding how the community want the memorial to be owned and managed in the long term. Do you have any views on how the memorial should be owned?
From October 2022, we split this into two questions:
- How do you think the memorial should be looked after, and by who?
- Who should own it? (Please note that the memorial can be owned by a legal body but not by individuals.)
Approximately a third of the views from bereaved family members and survivors which discussed ownership said their preference would be for a trust or charity to take ownership of the memorial site. Around a quarter of the views from other parts of the Grenfell community said the same.
Regarding management of the memorial, one fifth of views expressed by bereaved family members and survivors suggested that the government or local authority should be responsible for the management of the memorial. Around a quarter of people from the local community said that ‘the community’ should manage the memorial.
It is important to note, however, that so far we have only heard the views of a small number of people on these questions. This makes these summarised preferences about ownership less representative of Grenfell community views than, for example, our understanding of the Grenfell community’s views about what form the memorial should take.
Options we have considered for ownership
The Commission has explored a number of options for the ownership and management of the memorial and the land that houses it. These can be divided into two categories. The first involves the setting up of a new organisation or company to take on the legal ownership and management of the memorial. The second involves finding existing organisations to take on the management and legal ownership of the memorial site.
New organisation options include the setting up of a new charity, social enterprise or community land trust to take on management and ownership.
Existing organisation options include a public authority, such as a local council or government department, taking on ownership and management of the site of the memorial, or ownership and management being taken on by an existing charity or selecting a range of different appropriate organisations to take up specific elements of management and ownership.
The main advantages of a new organisation are that it can be created from the ground up to focus on what is considered to be most important. The main disadvantages of a new organisation are that trustees or directors will need to be recruited before any arrangements can begin and that, as a new organisation, the social enterprise, charity or community land trust will not have a proven track record in managing funds and staff.
The main advantages of transferring ownership and management to an already existing charity or public authority are that potential candidates can be selected and approached based on their existing track record, experience, infrastructure and financial sustainability. The main disadvantages of this are that the organisation will not have a sole focus on the management of the memorial and that some may feel, in the case of a public authority, that the independence of the ownership and decision making around the memorial is compromised.
The main advantages of a hybrid model, where different bodies carry out different roles in the management and ownership of the memorial, are that a mixture of different types of organisation can be chosen to carry out specific duties in relation to the management and ownership of the site based on their existing infrastructure. The main disadvantages of this are complexity of such arrangements and the need to coordinate all partners in this model.
Here, we set out the differences between these options.
Charities are regulated by the Charity Commission of England and Wales and usually require a minimum of three trustees. Charities are required to only carry out work that is set out in their charitable purposes. Anew charity can make arrangements for ways that it is accountable to the community. A new charity is likely to require a large amount of time and expertise from trustees, who will likely need to make a long-term commitment to their role. Charities can accept grants.
Community interest company
Community interest companies (CICs) are a form of social enterprise, a company limited by guarantee. CICs require a board of directors and are regulated by The Community Interest Company Regulator. CICs have an asset lock, which means that any profit that the company makes cannot be taken out of the company and must be reinvested in the community. Many grant making bodies can make grants to CICs. CICs do not have the same tax breaks as charities and are intended to raise at least some of their funds through trading activity.
Community land trust
Community land trusts (CLTs) are democratic, non-profit organisations that own and develop land for the benefit of the community. They are typically used to provide affordable homes, but also to secure and safeguard community gardens, civic buildings, pubs, shops, shared workspace, energy schemes and conservation landscapes. CLTs are not a legal form in themselves (like a company). However, CLTs are defined in law, which means there are certain things that a CLT must be and do: they must be set up to benefit a defined local community, and they must be not-for-profit. People living and working in the community must have the opportunity to join the CLT as members if they support the CLT’s aims. Members must have a controlling vote in annual general meetings and the board, though other stakeholders can be included in their governance. CLTs also require an asset lock, meaning that its assets are protected and used only for community purpose, rather than for any private or personal gain within the organisation.
Public authorities are public sector bodies like local authorities or government departments. Transferring ownership to a public authority means that the memorial would remain in public ownership. Arrangements for the involvement of the Grenfell community in decision making could form part of the conditions of the transfer.
Within the scope of our consideration, an existing charity will be a charity that has a track record and established knowledge and capacity in managing and safeguarding public spaces. Once the memorial is built, the legal title and day to day management of the memorial site should be vested in an appropriately qualified experienced entity operating at arm’s length from both local and central government.
Our recommendation for future ownership
The Commission recommends that the suitability of any organisation or model for the memorial ownership and maintenance role will be assessed on four overarching principles:
- Technical competence.
We recognise that it may not be possible for any single organisation to meet all these criteria in full, but we are confident that there are organisations that can embrace the spirit of these principles and understand why they are so important to the Grenfell community.
Bringing together the views we have heard, the insight we have gained from other memorials across the world and consideration of the five types of ownership outlined above, the Commission proposes and recommends that ownership and management of the site should be taken up by an established charity with experience of managing and maintaining public spaces in the national interest and in perpetuity. (We are also aware that there would be a benefit in both the memorial, and off-site memorialisation, having a consistent owner. This will form part of our ongoing considerations.)
In our discussions with the Grenfell community, The Royal Parks has been suggested as an organisation that upholds these principles.
The Royal Parks is a charity created in March 2017, and officially launched in July 2017, to support and manage 5,000 acres of Royal parkland across London. It continued the role of managing the parks previously held by The Royal Parks Agency, which was created in 1993. It looks after eight of London’s largest open spaces: Hyde Park, The Green Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, StJames’sPark, Bushy Park and Regent’s Park, and Kensington Gardens. It also manages other important open spaces in the capital including Brompton Cemetery, Victoria Tower Gardens, Canning Green and Poet’s Corner.
Working with an existing organisation would bring the technical competence to quickly and efficiently take ownership of the site. Creating a new organisation will require the setting up from scratch of a new legal structure, the employment of staff if necessary and long-term financial planning. The Royal Parks was raised, by some who shared their views with us, as a possible candidate for the long-term upkeep of the memorial. As an established charity they have extensive experience of managing public spaces in London and as such would be able to move efficiently into a management role.
Any such arrangement would require the development of structures and mechanisms, by which the Grenfell community will be kept at the heart of decision-making about the memorial and its management.
The Commission believes The Royal Parks to be a suitable organisation with experience of stewarding numerous memorials of national significance. The Commission urges government to explore the possibility of TheRoyal Parks assuming a role in relation to its ongoing management and maintenance after construction.
This proposed route will require further discussion with the Grenfell community, particularly around the mechanisms and structures that ensure that the final management and ownership remains answerable to and led by the Grenfell community. We know how important this is and the Grenfell community must have confidence that the right structures are in place to ensure our memorial is maintained and cared for in perpetuity.
We intend to hold these discussions in the months after we publish this report. We have started conversations with the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to explore how the government can support us in exploring this option.
Our working assumption has always been that the government will fully fund the memorial and its maintenance, in perpetuity. Indeed, it has a moral and ethical duty to do so. The government has committed to supporting the work of the Commission as we work with the Grenfell community to create a fitting memorial. This was first said in 2018 by the Prime Minister at the time, Theresa May and, most recently, by Michael Gove as the current Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.
This commitment has enabled us to press ahead with this important work and we are now at a stage where we are able to take the next steps towards a design brief. To do this we need to have greater certainty around the budgetary framework and about what the commitments made by government will mean in practice.
We have held discussions with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to agree what this looks like, and these discussions are ongoing. We have been clear that we expect the government’s commitment to mean that it will fund the building and long-term maintenance of the future memorial. We are committed to working tirelessly to articulate and deliver on the community’s demand that this government, and any successors, honour the commitments made to fully fund the memorial, which this process was established to create.
As we have said previously, the government currently owns the Grenfell Tower site. It has committed to transferring the red lined area in the image below to an appropriate body as determined by the Grenfell community (see The Commission’s proposal for ownership) once the site has been prepared for future use.
The site is just under 3,000 square metres, which has been set aside for the memorial. This includes the land on which Grenfell Tower stands, as well as some adjacent land on either side. A special legal restriction – a ‘restrictive covenant’ – is in place to protect the site so that it can’t be used in ways that go against the community’s wishes. For example, it will never be used for new housing.
The Memorial Commission can make recommendations on how to create a fitting memorial on this land. This legal ownership will then guarantee the usage of the land as being for the purpose of the memorial, and in perpetuity.
Image provided by Redbox Surveys. This shows the position of the site but may be subject to distortions.
10. Our next steps
The ongoing role of the Memorial Commission
We have been working to hear from the community since 2020, have held numerous meetings and Grenfell community discussions (see How did we hear from people?) and produced two reports.
This report presents an important milestone on the path to the design of the memorial, but we have not yet reached the end of this journey.
Our work as a Commission has always been about putting families at the heart of everything we do. As we enter the next stage of fulfilling our promise, we expect the role of the Commission to evolve and change. We have heard that bereaved families wish to play a larger and more direct role as we draw closer to the development of the final plans for the memorial.
A key activity for us, as we move towards the appointment of a design team, will be examining how the Commission is organised and the ways in which families will be able to continue to feed into the memorial process. We are keen to hear from families about how this would work best and will be reaching out to bereaved families to understand how they wish to be involved.
Our remit as the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission is to support the community to reach an agreed design for a memorial. After this stage, we will continue to have important oversight over the memorial build and development process. We will update our Terms of Reference to reflect our future role as it evolves.
We will need to continue to hold government to account to make sure our promise to the Grenfell community can be kept. We will continue to need to seek advice from other memorials as we move forwards.
What will happen after the publication of this report?
By spring 2026, the Commission expects there will be a final design for the Grenfell Tower memorial.
To get to this point, a design brief will be created based on this report. Design teams will be invited to respond to that brief with their proposed approach to this important work. A shortlist of teams will then be invited to further develop their ideas.
The team judged best able to deliver the vision for the memorial that has been communicated in this report will then go forward to create the final design. The Grenfell community will be closely involved at every point of the process, with collaboration between the community and design teams happening where it makes the most difference. This will make sure that the final design translates the community’s wishes into a physical memorial that lasts in perpetuity.
December 2023: finalising the design brief and selection process details.
We will use what we have heard from the Grenfell community, details about the site and expert advice to develop a design brief. This will clearly define the atmosphere and how the memorial should feel, the form it should take and the details requested by the bereaved, survivors and the Grenfell community. It will also define the type of team needed to design and develop the future memorial. This is likely to include architects, landscape architects or artists, and will capture the key elements that the design team should consider.
Spring 2024: finding the future design team
- Launch of the memorial design team selection process. We will publish clear criteria and details about how interested teams can apply.
- Applicants will be asked to demonstrate their relevant experience, such as architectural and landscape professional expertise, and their experience of working collaboratively with communities.
- We won’t be asking for designs at this stage, but we will want details of the proposed team, about how they intend to approach the design, and how they will work with the community.
- We will be looking for teams that are collaborative and who take a community-led approach. Teams with a strong community-focus will be very much encouraged to apply.
Summer 2024: shortlisting
- The Memorial Commission will review and shortlist the number of design team applicants to a maximum of five, on behalf of the Grenfell community and with the support of advisers.
Late 2024 and early 2025: design team selection
- We will ask the shortlisted teams to prepare the design approach they would take if appointed. That will need to include a proposed visual representation of what a part of the memorial might look like.
- This will be shared with the community, both in-person and online, to make sure that bereaved families, survivors and others in the Grenfell community remain at the heart of the memorial process. We will provide details nearer the time of the different ways the community can be involved and at the forefront of the process.
- The Commission will set clear criteria to assess the shortlisted teams on their proposals, including their team structure, design representations, and approach to working with the community. Teams will be expected to respond to community requirements, and technical and expert advice.
- The final team will then be selected and announced to the Grenfell community.
By late 2025: memorial design development
- The detailed memorial design will be developed, with the Grenfell community closely involved.
- We expect the planning application for the final memorial design to be submitted.
- We expect to have planning permission approved for the memorial.
- The earliest point that the memorial build could begin. This is based on the earliest point that the Memorial Commission could be ready, with an agreed design, to start building preparations.
11. Thank you
We are immensely grateful to the different parts of the Grenfell community who have spoken with us and shared their views. We know that, especially for bereaved family members, these discussions can be demanding and difficult. We very much appreciate their time and also that of the survivors, the people who lost their homes, Lancaster West Estate residents and local community members.
We very much appreciate the time given by the groups representing bereaved and survivor families, to speak with us, and to share their ideas and thoughts.
We could also not have held the engagement activities and events we have without the regular support, insights and kindness of many community organisations, groups, and individuals. We know we may not do justice to the full list of those who have helped, but these include:
- Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre
- ClementJames Centre
- Dalgarno Trust
- Hope Gardens
- Kensington Leisure Centre
- Lancaster West Estate Residents’ Association
- Lancaster West Residents’ Voices
- Latimer Community Art Therapy and the Henry Dickens Community Centre
- Notting Dale Advisory Board
- Notting Hill Methodist Church
- The Curve (up until 2022)
We are grateful to Khan’s restaurant, Adrianna’s Café and Eatery, and Argan Tree Café, for the use of their facilities and for catering for Grenfell community members attending Commission events.
Thank you to the local schools and youth groups, for hosting some of our events and holding discussions with students:
- Avondale Primary School
- Grenfell Nursery School
- Kensington Aldridge Academy
- Kids on the Green
- Oxford Gardens Primary School
- RBKC Youth Council
- St Francis of Assisi Primary School
We continue to appreciate and take note of the insightful advice and support of local faith leaders, groups and places of worship:
- The whole team at Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, including Abdurahman Sayed
- Bishop Graham Tomlinson
- Bishop James Jones
- Father Gareth
- Father Gerard
- Reverend Mike Long
Our many thanks to Constantine Gras, for supporting our important work and facilitating people to give their views using art and illustration.
Thanks to the following for providing some of the beautiful photographs used within this report:
- bigSMALL TV
- Constantine Gras (www.grasart.com)
- Zute Lightfoot, Andreia Sofia Leitão and Jason Garcia, ACAVA Shoots
- Thanks also to Paprika Skala-Williams, whose ceramic hearts appear in several of these photographs.
Thank you to the many other local artists, art organisations and performers, for the support, comfort and healing that you bring to the Grenfell community:
- Carlton Graham, Mosaics Man
- Carol Hopkins, Learna Oliffe and Sue Duggins
- Janet Blake and John Pradere
- Marcia Robinson from Hope Gardens
- Paprika Skala-Williams
- Sophie Lodge (24 hearts)
- Tayshan Hayden-Smith of Grow2Know
We are grateful to the families, teams and guardians from other national and international memorials, who have been so generous with their time and advice:
- The Aberfan Memorial Charity
- The team behind the Manchester Glade of Light
- The survivors of 7/7
- The team and families involved in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum
- The bereaved families of the MV Sewol tragedy and Dr Wonyong Park
- The Sandy Hook Memorial team
Thank you to Kaizen, for their engagement and data analysis services.
Portobello Radio and Morley College have been invaluable in assisting us in producing audio versions of our reports.
Our thanks go to the many professionals who have provided their skills, expertise and advice:
- Our current report writer, Mark Brown, and previous report writer, Amy Pollard – for helping us to articulate and present our findings and recommendations
- Stephanie Edwards as our independent design adviser, and Peter Neal, our landscape consultant
- Our ‘conservation working group’, who continue to lend their time and attention to this complex task: Professor May Cassar, director of the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, Finbarr Whooley, director of content, Museum of London, Dr Tilly Blyth, head of school of museum studies, University of Leicester, Peregrine Bryant, director, Peregrine Bryant Architects Ltd, Laura Morgante, director, Peregrine Bryant Architects
- bigSMALL TV, for creating our films and capturing photographs of our work in action
- Heart Productions, for their considered and sensitive coordination of commemorative and other events on, or close to, the Grenfell Tower site
Thank you to the V&A Museum for the use of their boardroom for our monthly meetings, and to the Museum of Brands for support with other occasional meetings.
We are grateful to the following public authority representatives, for their professional advice and knowledge:
- Ayesha Hameed from the Greater London Authority
- Dr Fiona Wilcox, inner west London senior coroner
- Sue Harris, RBKC, as well as the Dedicated Service
- Suzanne Kochanowski and Peter Taylor, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
- Matt Hogan, previous site manager of the Grenfell Tower site, and friend to the Commission
- David Bailey and Robyn Doran from the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust
We thank our dedicated secretariat and communications team (past and present), who have played a crucial role in keeping us on track with achieving our ambition of developing a community-led memorial vision, and in producing our reports:
Amy Plender, Cathryn Healey, Charlotte Tuck, Cecile McHugh, Daisy Thomson, Ed Burbridge, Eleanor Davidson, Gurdeep Kang, Kasmine Moses, Lucy Chapman, Ravnit Kaur Panag, Sue Johnson, Victoria O’Sullivan, Yemi Egopija.
Finally, a big thank you to our co-chairs (past and present), for volunteering their time, expertise, energy and vital lived experience: Michael Lockwood, Thelma Stober DL and Lord Paul Boateng CVO.
Appendix 1: The Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission Terms of Reference
Following the tragic events of 14 June 2017 the prime minister personally committed that the bereaved, survivors and immediate North Kensington community will lead decision-making on the long term future of the Grenfell Tower site. This was formalised in a set of written principles that were published on 1st March 2018, and indicated that a trusted and transparent process would be agreed to enable representatives of the community to be at the heart of decision-making.
The purpose of the community-led Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission is to establish a proposal for:
- What happens to the Grenfell Tower site in the future, assumed to be a fitting memorial to remember those who lost their lives; and
- How the memorial site will be owned and sustainably managed for the long term.
The scope of the Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission is to:
- Lead decision-making on how the Grenfell Tower site should be used in the long term, once it is made available and ready for future use.
- Work openly, inclusively and transparently to develop a community consensus.
- Produce a report setting out its views on:
- How the Grenfell Tower site should be used in the long term and the nature of the memorial
- Any design criteria for the memorial
- How the site should be owned and sustainably managed for the long term.
3. Commission membership
The Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission will include community and public authority representatives. Community representatives will input the views of the bereaved, survivors and residents from the Lancaster West Estate. To ensure an inclusive approach, community representatives will also represent the views of the North Kensington area.
Public authority representatives will advise and support community-led decision making and are responsible for implementing the views of the Memorial Commission. Public authorities will not have full membership on the Commission, they are ex-officio members.
The Memorial Commission will be made up of:
- Two independent co-chairs
- Five representatives of the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy
- Three representatives of the former residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk who lost their homes
- Two representatives of the residents of the Lancaster West Estate
- Relevant ex-officio public authority representatives including from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, Kensington and Chelsea Council, the local NHS Trust, and the independent Site Management team with responsibility for day-to-day management of the Grenfell Tower site.
The Memorial Commission’s community membership is structured to ensure the voice of the bereaved carries the most weight, equivalent to a 50% representative vote. As the Memorial Commission will be community-led, the community representatives will be selected by the bereaved, survivors and residents of the Lancaster West Estate. The Commission will seek the views of those in the North Kensington area through its consultation process.
At the discretion of the Chair, the Memorial Commission will also consult with experts with experience and knowledge that would be of benefit to its work, and invite them to attend meetings on an ex-officio basis. This will include the Inner West London Senior Coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox.
The community-led Grenfell Tower Memorial Commission will have no executive authority and will operate in accordance with these Terms of Reference. Administrative support for the Commission will be provided by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Once it is in place, the Memorial Commission’s work is expected to take a minimum of a year, after which it will publish a report setting out its findings.
Views about the future memorial were gathered using the range of methods described on pages 20 to 21, from 2020 to 2023. We understand that not all bereaved and survivor individuals wanted, or felt ready or able, to contribute their views during this time.
Appendix 2: who has engaged with us about the future memorial?
|Bereaved family members||97|
|Survivors and former residents of Grenfell Tower and Grenfell Walk||43|
|Lancaster West Estate residents||490|
|Local community beyond the Lancaster West Estate||1,629|
|Total number of people who shared views||2,259|
|Note: Further to the numbers detailed in these tables, we also received memorial views – via other parties – from three anonymous and verified bereaved and/or survivor individuals. Due to their anonymity, we have not added these views to the numbers detailed in these tables, to avoid potentially double counting individuals who may have also given their views to the Commission via another route.|
Appendix 3: % of all words (given by people in response to the question, ‘which three words would you want to describe the memorial?’) within the four emerging themes
|Total||Peaceful and reflective||Respectful and remembrance||Community and love||Hope and positive|
|Bereaved and survivors||86%||34%||30%||14%||8%|
Appendix 4: views on the physical form of the memorial
1,246 people have shared views on the memorial form, within 1,003 conversations:
- 134 bereaved, survivors or former residents of Grenfell Walk (of whom 94 are bereaved) have shared their view (in 131 conversations)
- 1,112 people from the local community (in 872 conversations), including 304 residents from the Lancaster West Estate (in 277 conversations), have shared a view
|Possible memorial forms||Bereaved only||Survivor only||Lancaster West Estate residents||All community|
|Garden or landscape||69%||70%||53%||62%|
|Artwork or monument||40%||33%||31%||35%|
|Building (museum, cafe, etc)||15%||13%||6%||8%|
|Small structure that covers from rain||21%||13%||4%||8%|
|Number of conversations in which a view on the form of the memorial was shared||81 conversations with 94 people||46 conversations with 40 people*||277 conversations with 304 people||872 conversations with 1,112 people|
Appendix 5: views on memorial features
|Possible memorial features||Bereaved only||Survivors only||Lancaster West Estate residents||All community|
|Place to sit/reflect/for the community to come together||63%||57%||35%||36%|
|Names of those who lost their lives||58%||33%||27%||28%|
|Place for children/young people||19%||17%||12%||15%|
|Height (reflecting the size of the Tower)||10%||9%||2%||5%|
|Using the full structure of theTower||10%||4%||2%||3%|
|Using elements or part of the Tower in the memorial (footprint or parts of theTower)||9%||7%||0%||1%|
|Using part of the structure of the Tower (reduced height to bottom 4 – 5 floors)||5%||2%||0%||1%|
|Number of conversations in which a view on the form of the memorial was shared||81 conversations with 94 people||46 conversations with 40 people*||277 conversations with 304 people||872 conversations with 1,112 people|
Appendix 6: views on the use of the memorial
838 people have been shared views on future uses of the memorial, within 792 conversations:
- 121 bereaved, survivors or former residents of Grenfell Walk (of whom 87 are bereaved) have shared a view (in 121 conversations)
- 717 people from the local community (in 671 conversations), including 212 residents from the Lancaster West Estate (in 207 conversations), have shared a view
|Use of the memorial||Bereaved only||Survivors only||Lancaster West Estate residents||All community|
|Gathering (including community and memorial events)||22%||10%||19%||21%|
|Community support (arts, wellbeing, therapy, support services)||4%||8%||6%||6%|
|Not a tourist attraction||3%||5%||6%||7%|
|Number of conversations in which a view on the use of the memorial was shared||79 conversations with 87 people||40 conversations with 34 people*||207 conversations with 212 people||671 conversations with 717 people|
Appendix 7: views on the ownership, management and funding of the memorial
270 people have shared views on the ownership or management of the memorial, within 236 conversations:
- 48 bereaved, survivors or former residents of Grenfell Walk (of whom 36 are bereaved) have shared a view (in 50 conversations)
- 222 people from the local community (in 186 conversations), including 35 residents from the Lancaster West Estate (in 30 conversations), have shared a view
|Bereaved only||Survivors only||Lancaster West Estate residents||All community|
|Memorial to be owned by:|
|Bereaved and survivors*||11%||8%||10%||12%|
|Not government/local authority||14%||8%||7%||18%|
|Trust/charity – bereaved and survivors with government||3%||0%||0%||1%|
|Ownership comment without explicitly stated preference||14%||15%||10%||21%|
|Bereaved and survivors*||19%||0%||7%||7%|
|Not government/local authority||5%||0%||10%||15%|
|Trust/charity – bereaved and survivors with government||5%||0%||0%||1%|
|Management comment without explicitly stated preference||8%||38%||20%||30%|
|Government/local authority should provide funding or support||8%||15%||20%||16%|
|No view or unclear view; main concern is that the memorial is cared for longterm||11%||0%||7%||6%|
|Not for me to say||0%||0%||0%||1%|
|Number of conversations where a view on ownership, management or funding was shared||37 conversations with 36 people*||13 conversations with 12 people*||30 conversations with 35 people||186 conversations with 222 people|
- The number of conversations is greater than the number of people because a few people have shared views more than once.
- For both ownership and management, all views that indicate ‘Bereaved and Survivors’ have also been counted in ‘trust/charity’, unless another formal structure (such as a community interest company or trust/charity specifically of bereaved and survivors with government) was mentioned in the same comment. This is because ownership or management by bereaved and survivors would require a vehicle in the form of a trust or charity.
- Where people have suggested that the ‘community’ should own or manage the memorial, this refers to references made to ‘the community’ or ‘the local community’.
Appendix 8: views on the use of elements from Grenfell Tower in the memorial
164 people so far have shared views on using elements:
- 44 bereaved, survivors or former residents of Grenfell Walk (of whom 30 are bereaved)
- 120 people from the local community, including 16 residents from the Lancaster West Estate
Would you like any elements from Grenfell Tower or the site to be included in the Grenfell Tower memorial?
|Bereaved only||Survivors only||Lancaster West Estate residents||All community|
|How many people shared a view||30||14||16||120|
Appendix 9: just some of your ideas...
Remembering those who lost their lives
- A special area to remember the 18 children who died
- A personalised memorial, with the names, pictures, and/or personal quotes
- A space were people can write messages, or leave flowers or other items
- Individual elements for each person that died, such as a column, stone, sculptures or leaves
- Artwork created by the community, including local school children
- Motifs such as butterflies, rainbows and hearts (including the green ‘Grenfell’ heart)
- Statues and/or sculptures, of those that died, of doves, hands or of Grenfell Tower itself
- A creative tree-like structure with branches and leaves
- Include the elements of earth, wind and water
- An Italian-style water fountain
- Lake with wildlife, such as fish, ducks and plants
- Memorial water fountain with the names of those that died
- Include running water
A green space
- 72 species of plant, tree or flower planted to represent each person that died
- Vibrant and colourful flowers, with consideration given to the time of year that the will be in bloom
- A sectioned-off, private garden with secure access for the bereaved and survivors
- Retention of some parts of Grenfell Tower, with green ‘living’ walls and installations
A functional building or structure
- A community space, offering services for wellbeing, creative and therapeutic activities, and/or for multi-faith worship
- An educational facility where all ages can learn about Grenfell, its legacy, and other relevant subjects
- A space for children and young people, including a nursery and/or youth activities
- Something that provides shelter, so that the memorial can be visited in all weather
This indicates the enormous range of memorial ideas and thoughts shared with us by the Grenfell community. These lists do not rank the ideas based on how often they were mentioned to us, nor do they necessarily form part of the Commission’s recommendations, but they do reflect the breadth and creativity of what we heard.
- Columns lit up with green hearts
- Illuminate the memorial for anniversaries
- Sculpture of light, visible at night
- A quiet area for all faiths to worship and say prayers
- The inclusion of multiple religious symbols, such as a crescent, cross, angels and calligraphy
- A culturally-sensitive space, appropriate for all faiths
Other ways of memorialising (off site)
- Annual remembrance day
- Change to building regulations and housing legislation
- Civic awareness programmes and fire safety education sessions, as well as including the Grenfell Tower tragedy in the national curriculum, alongside the Great Fire of London and other historical events.
- An education foundation or scholarship programme.
- An archive and digital memorialisation to be housed in a purpose-built museum or as part of the permanent collection in an existing museum.
- Memorialisation near Westminster as a constant reminder to the government
- Rename ‘Latimer Road Station’ to ‘Grenfell Gardens’
Using elements of the Tower
- Keep the whole building and fill it with plants
- Preserve and incorporate the picture from the lobby of the old baths, and the Grenfell Reform poster
- Re-use the stone from the Tower
- Use the footprint of the Tower, like the 9/11 memorial
- Use light to depict the height of Grenfell Tower, as with the 9/11 memorial
- Find a way to represent the 24 floors
- A metal or concrete structure to represent the height of Grenfell Tower
- Make the memorial visible in the skyline and from the A40
- Send a piece of Grenfell Tower to each fire station
- Acknowledge the support of the people who came to help in the days and months after the tragedy, including the emergency services, and their dedication and compassion at that difficult time
- A brass plaque with a simple message from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, stating what happened
- Include the petition calling for an investigation into the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, signed by many Grenfell Tower residents and submitted in May 2017, carved in Eqyptian limestone
- Create a model of a Grenfell Tower flat, as it used to be
- Rolling exhibition of elements, rotated annually
Appendix 10: what has happened so far, and what can you expect next?
Please note that these timings are indicative, based on our current understanding and engagement findings. We will continue to work at the pace of the Grenfell community, who are entitled to the delivery of their expectations, and who remain at the heart of this important work.
September 2019 – June 2020
The Memorial Commission’s membership is finalised.
Aims, approach and ways of working agreed.
Introductions to bereaved families, survivors and local residents. Initial ideas shared.
September 2020– April 2022
Ideas gathering begins supported by Kaizen, a community engagement specialist. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, conversations, meetings and – once permitted – drop-in events continue. Meetings are held with the families and custodians of memorials to other tragedies , with some follow-up visits.
Our first report, Remembering Grenfell: our journey so far is published, sharing what we have heard so far.
July 2022–July 2023
Views continue to be gathered, including about incorporating elements of the Tower, and about ownership and management of the future memorial.
Late 2023 – early 2024
We will prepare and launch the design team selection process. We will define what the memorial should be like, the type of team needed to develop it, and criteria and application details for interested teams. The Grenfell community’s views, and the advice of experts, will inform this.
The Memorial Commission will shortlist up to five design team applicants on behalf of the Grenfell community.
Late 2024– early 2025
Shortlisted design teams will be asked to prepare the design approach they would take if appointed. That will need to include a proposed visual representation of what a part of the memorial might look like. This will all be shared with the Grenfell community. The final team will then be selected and announced.
Preparatory works will take place at the memorial site, while the memorial design is being developed.
We will agree the final memorial design, with the community’s involvement, and expect to receive planning permission.
Memorial construction begins.