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Faith groups bring hope to Grenfell disaster survivors

PRACTICAL RESPONSE: Faith groups played a key role in helping those affected by the re

A NEW report has highlighted the role played by diverse faith groups in helping people who were affected by the Grenfell Fire disaster.

The report called After Grenfell: the Faith Groups’ Response, is based on interviews with representatives of churches, synagogues, mosques, and gurdwaras in the area, as well as from statutory bodies and emergency services, and charts the faith groups’ response in the immediate hours, days and weeks after the tragedy.

At least 15 separate centres run by faith communities responded to provide practical help to those in need.

The aid they provided included acting as evacuation ar- eas, receiving, sorting and distributing donations, offering accommodation, drawing up lists of the missing, supporting emergency services, patrolling the cordon, providing counselling and supporting survivors seeking housing.

In the first three days alone at least 6,000 people were fed by a range of faith communities. This is alongside the more expected provision of space for prayer and re ection and hosting interfaith services of memorial and lament.

Many commentators remarked on the level and effectiveness of the faith groups’ practical aid to those in need, particularly in the absence of a more co-ordinated of cial effort.

RELATIONSHIPS

According to the report, among the reasons faith groups were able to play an effective role was that many had roots in the area that went back decades.

They were made up of local people who had the networks, knowledge and relationships that enabled them to mobilise volunteers to reach people quickly. They also ran buildings and facilities that could be made available quickly and flexibly.

In addition to this, the distinctive faith ethos of these groups enabled them to respond with openness, hospitality and religious sensitivity to those in need.

Elizabeth Old eld, director of Theos, which compiled the report, said that despite the tragedy “a community, including diverse people of faith, could respond with real courage and commitment.

She added: “We hope this report will help us learn the lessons of this tragedy, and equip faith communities elsewhere to best serve those around in times of crisis as well as day- to-day.”

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