Grenfell, How our Community reached out.

The first thing we need to say is our thoughts, hope and efforts remain with those affected by the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower.

The morning of the 14th June was like many others right up until the news came on.  Like so many other agencies and people, White City Enterprise (WCE) & Community Centre instantly felt compelled to act as quickly as we could to do whatever was necessary to help those in need.

Over the next couple of hours our role at the community centre rapidly changed.  We’d done the practical bits, getting the doors open quickly; contacting the people and agencies we needed to, so what should we do next? We’re pleased to say that choice was taken from us by our local community; they came to us and led what we did next. Within minutes of the doors opening donations were already starting to mount up and volunteers turn up, this was just the start of it! Over the course of the day well over 500 people came through our doors to give so generously.  They gave clothes, toiletries, baby products, shoes, food and water, many people asked what was needed and went off to buy it. Many others contacted us with offers of accommodation, entire houses & flats, transport and time; we made sure these offers were passed onto the appropriate people.

This of course required some organisation, we were fortunate to have huge support from over 60 volunteers and community members, many of whom came to us via social media.  T hey sorted, bagged, labelled and distributed literally tons of supplies, and again through social media we were able to target those centres that needed particular items.

White City Community Centre 11:30am White City Community Centre 11:30am

It was an amazing, overwhelming and moving response to an awful tragedy.  Our staff many of whom work part time cancelled holidays came in without being asked and facilitated the community’s response of utter generosity.  We subsequently discovered many of the staff and volunteers knew people, had friends and family in the tower or very nearby, yet they carried on working.

The volunteers were unbelievable, the shear effort they put in left us in awe, and the wider community made us feel, on reflection, a sense of being very privileged to be involved in their coming together to help their neighbours.

We saw so much pure generosity, one that stays with us especially were the two seven-year old girls who had brought in some of their own toys, which they had gift wrapped.

Of course we didn’t do this alone, and many other organisations shared our experience there was amazing work done by the churches, mosques, temples and community groups close to the scene.  Specifically though  we have to thank those who worked with us on the day: Andy Evans and all the team at QPR Community Trust; Priya Pallan from Imperial College’s community development team; Mary, Natasha and Robert from WCE; our local Safer Neighbourhood Team, Westway Sports, LBH&F’s housing staff, The Felix Project, Sainsbury’s, Poundland, the local businesses that fed our volunteers and gave so many items; all those who reached out to us via social media; and of course the volunteers and all those who gave.   We’re sure we’ve missed loads, but Thank You for what you did, but also for affirming what our community can achieve.

When we finished late that night our thoughts and conversations were rightly about those who did not have homes to go to, had lost loved ones or were searching for them, but we also felt that we had been witness to something truly inspiring, a response where colour, culture, religion, where you come from, and who you are didn’t matter one bit, all that counted was the desire to help those in need.

How this happened and could it be avoided are questions that will need to be answered but, for now, our focus is on continuing to help those affected and those groups supporting them.

We know that the deep wounds caused by the Grenfell Tower disaster will take many many years to heal, if they ever can, and White City Enterprise are committed to assist wherever we can, but, in an attempt to hold onto something positive from this awful tragic event, we can look to our community and remember their response to those in need.

White City Enterprise