It’s almost two years since the 24 storey Grenfell Tower was engulfed in flames, taking the lives of 72 people. Built in Kensington and Chelsea – one of the wealthiest and most unequal boroughs in London – Grenfell Tower stood a short distance from the busy West Way. Since June 2017 Grenfell has taken on symbolic significance – a stark reminder of the way in which poverty and inequality have spiralled in the UK during the ‘age of austerity’. Just a day after the fire the rap musician and public intellectual Akala argued that the residents of Grenfell Tower died ‘because they were poor‘.
In the hours, days, weeks, months and years since the tragedy faith groups have offered active support to the bereaved, the dispossessed, the homeless and the traumatized local community. Standing in the shadow of Grenfell Tower is Notting Hill Methodist, whose Minister, the Revd Mike Long, has been in the vanguard of support for the former residents of Grenfell Tower and campaigns for housing justice. Our Life on the Breadline project is exploring the response of Christian communities to rising levels of poverty in the UK since the 2008 financial crash. The link between poverty, housing justice and homelessness forms a key strand of our research and so it is great news that we will be working alongside Notting Hill Methodist Church and the communities alongside Grenfell Tower during the project.