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Social Justice

In pictures: Grenfell Tower five years after the fire

Five years after a fire tore through Grenfell Tower, these images show that life on the ground has struggled to move on.

On June 14, 2017, the UK witnessed the horrific burning of Grenfell Tower. Some 72 people, including 18 children, lost their lives.  

According to fire officials, the blaze broke out due to a faulty fridge freezer but within hours it had consumed the entire building, fuelled by the flammable cladding which encased the structure like a tinder box.

The 25-storey tower block is now an empty shell wrapped in banners reading: “Grenfell forever in our hearts”. Another displays a full heart in green, the colour adopted to honour those victims.  

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As soon as you step off Latimer tube station in west London, the nearest underground to Grenfell Tower, the presence of grief and remembrance is unmissable. Hand-painted signs hang from flat windows, public walls are sprayed with green heart graffiti and railings are furnished with green and silver tinsel.  

This is how the area looks five years after the fire.  

"Measurements put in place to make Grenfell Tower look better, no measurements put in place to keep residents safe"
“No measure’s put in place to keep residents safe”. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big Issue

“Measurements put in place to to make Grenfell Tower look better, no measures put in place to keep residents safe.”

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Around every corner there are signs calling for justice. Despite the inquiry, which has lasted years, no criminal charges have been filed. 

“72 +++ = WHY?” Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big Issue

A white plasterboard wall surrounds Grenfell tower, which has since been used as a canvas by loved ones, the community, and those who feel compelled, to honour the victims in handwritten messages. Most of the notes read “RIP”, “never forget” and call for justice.

A mosaic sign that reads 'No Justice' in remembrance of Grenfell Tower
“No Justice” mosaic. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big Issue
Handwritten sign sits on the corner of Bramley Road, leading to Grenfell Tower. It states "Why do we, the working class, have to suffer once again?"
“Why do we, the working class, have to suffer once again?”

“Why do we, the working class, have to suffer once again?” This handwritten sign sits on the corner of Bramley Road, leading to Grenfell Tower.

The nearby railings line up the names of the 72 victims who lost their lives in the fire.

Green metal signs state the names of those who lost their lives in the fire that hang on the railings near Grenfell Tower
Green metal signs state the names of the victims who lost their lives. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big issue
Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team have been working on a memorial garden for the loved ones of those who lost their lives.
Neighbourhood team wrap nearby tree with lights and put up memorial structures. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big Issue

Lancaster West Neighbourhood Team have worked on a memorial garden for the loved ones of those who lost their lives. The team also hand-made this winged heart structure that hangs in the centre of the wall surrounding the tower. Nearby trees and symbols will be lit up this evening to mark the five year anniversary.

"Innocence deserves justice," this sign acknowledges the 18 children who lost their lives in the grenfell tower fire and calls for action.
“Innocence deserves justice”. Image: Eliza Piktin/Big Issue

“Innocence deserves justice”: this sign acknowledges the 18 children who lost their lives and calls for action.

“Always in our hearts”. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big issue

The burned shell of Grenfell Tower after the the fire is painted onto a canvas that leans against the memorial wall. Many images that decorate the wall are by children.

What Grenfell Tower looks like in 2022. Blue sky, banners that read "forever in our hearts."
Grenfell Tower in 2022. Image: Eliza Pitkin/Big Issue

Watch this video from the scene and don’t forget to follow us on TikTok to get the latest updates on news from The Big Issue team.

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