A vigil will take place in Southampton today, starting at the Bargate and finishing in Guildhall Square, to commemorate those who died in the devastating tower block fire last June.
Silent walks have been taking place in London on the 14th of every month since the disaster happened, and cities such as Birmingham and Liverpool have also held commemorations, but this is the first one held in Southampton as part of the wider Justice4Grenfell movment.
After the march, keynote speakers will address the crowd, including local Labour councillor Satvir Kaur and a firefighter from the affected area.
Organiser Shokraneh Moghadam is a former University of Southampton Psychology student and is currently undertaking her PhD at the University of Winchester. She was deeply moved by the fire in the residential tower block in North Kensington, an area with one of the sharpest social divides in the country. Almost a year on from the disaster, an inquiry has yet to be carried out as to the failure to replace cladding known to be below fire safety standards, and many former residents remain in temporary accommodation. A parliamentary debate will also be held today over the diversity of the inquiry panel, after an e-petition raised over 150,000 signatures.
Shokraneh has volunteered with a project working with children affected by the tragedy, and describes her anger as the causes behind the fire became known:
”As I followed the story, even after it had stopped being reported in the news, I realised how corrupt the fire was and how it was essentially a product of the state’s mistakes. Before the fire, residents had on numerous occasions filed complaints about health and safety hazards that went unnoticed. The government were fully aware of the faulty cladding and insulation that covered the building, yet this was ignored. What happened at Grenfell was mass murder, it was unjust and reflects how change is desperately needed nationally.”
She calls on those moved by the tragedy at Grenfell to be more mindful of their words and actions, and to seek out the facts rather than relying on the media:
”Don’t forget about tragedies just because they are not in the news anymore or because they haven’t affected you first hand. In in the world we live in, or just life in general, you never know what could be on your doorstep, so be mindful of your words and how you treat others.”
Shokraneh has been involved with the group Stand Up To Racism and praises them for the opportunities they provide for student campaigners to raise awareness of the issues they care about. Those interested in finding out more can join the Facebook event or email Shokraneh who will be organising a coach trip to London on June 14th for the solidarity march a year on from the tragedy.
The march will start at 6:30PM at the Bargate on Monday 14th May, and attendees are asked to arrive at 6PM and bring hearts and placards in memory of those whose lives were lost.