Peter Cary/PA Wire
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Church hopes to be an anchor for locals as Grenfell inquiry begins

Thu 14 Sep 2017
By Tola Mbakwe

The leader of Notting Hill Methodist Church in London, which is near Grenfell Tower, said he wants the church to be a source of hope for locals as the formal investigation into the fire begins.

Rev Mike Long told Premier: "We really want the community to know that the Church is there for them as a place where people can meet and express themselves freely where people can feel safe where people can feel welcomed."

Emotions ran high at Notting Hill Methodist Church on Thursday as the opening of the Grenfell Tower inquiry was shown on screens in the shadow of the charred building.

Survivors from the disaster and other local residents branded the process a "whitewash" as Sir Martin Moore-Bick gave his opening address.

Around 30 members of the local community gathered to watch the opening unfold, some leaving angrily before its conclusion, after Sir Martin said he would not be including residents on the inquiry assessment team.

One upset resident, who wished not to be named, said: "This is a whitewash, and that's all it will be."



Some people shook their heads on leaving the church and walked quickly away from the building, which is still adorned with flowers, hand-made signs and candles in memory of those lost in the tragedy on 14th June.

Rev Long told Premier, some locals are hopeful that the inquiry will do its job, but in order for the investigation to be successful; the victims' concerns must be heard and understood.

He said: "It's not just about the facts here. It's also about trust and that's to do with relationships.

"It's about taking people seriously, and if this is simply a technical intellectual exercise that will not be sufficient for people in the local community."

As the small huddle of residents dispersed, some paused to look once more at the tributes left on the church railings close by.

Coinciding with the three-month anniversary of the disaster, residents will once again meet in the area later on Thursday to march in commemoration of former residents who died in the blaze.

Listen to Rev Mike Long speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe here:

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