It’s been just over six weeks since the Grenfell Tower fire in London and, as the initial anger and shock subsides, planning and action is at the forefront of people’s minds. As the community looks to the government for answers and assistance — that they’re frustratingly just not getting at the moment — it’s remained up to those working in the community to keep the momentum going.
Step forward Amina Rafiq. The aspiring music photographer skipped work to offer her help at Latimer Road the morning of the fire and has barely left since. Just days after, she quit her job and made moves to set up Here Is The Help, a not-for-profit organization that seeks to help those affected by the tragedy. “I was organizing donations and helping to coordinate 300 meals a day and generally helping anywhere that needed me in the first week,” she says. “My phone was ringing like crazy every 2 minutes and things just escalated from there. That’s when the idea for Here Is The Help started forming.”
Amina is still out on the ground at the area’s community centers, coordinating things like new mattresses for families still without permanent residences and electric wheelchairs for those left without them — things the council are still dealing with at an frustratingly slow pace – as well as supporting the residents and attending ongoing council meetings.
She’s also just launched the Here Is The Help website and a self-funded T-shirt campaign to raise money for an associated project, Here Is The Translation. “Initially we wanted to donate whatever was raised from the sales of the t-shirts to the residents of Grenfell, but in reality, there is so much money that isn’t being distributed that money raised from the t-shirts wouldn’t even make a dent.”
Instead, Amina the money will be better put to use by funding Here Is The Translation. “The families that lived in the tower speak 22 different languages in total and the council has been presenting them with legal documents and information leaflets only written in English, with no resources allocated to getting them translated,” she says. “It costs around £800 per A4 page, and they’re being handed bundles of letters on a day-to-day basis. It’s not fair for some of the families whose first language may not be English. It’s something that really needs to addressed.”
The t-shirt itself was designed by tour manager Felix Morton — “I’ve been friends with Felix for a while, and he was frustrated and upset because the majority of his time is spent away on tour and at the time, he couldn’t physically help at Westway” — and features an uplifting image of Grenfell Tower.
“One of the beautiful things to come out of the situation was the way the community came together, everyone helped, everyone was doing their bit,” Amina explains. “We wanted to reflect that in the design. It’s intended to feel like a symbol of light and hope.”
Shot by photographer Christina Nwabugo, styled by Alizè Demange, and modeled by Gal-Dem magazine Assistant Editor Simran Randhawa, the campaign is set around Ladbroke Grove and features a number of creatives who were all keen to be involved. “We just want to keep everyone talking about it – it’s still very much an emotional and stressful time for those affected, and we hope the t-shirt is a good way of making sure it stays at the forefront of people’s minds. Plus we think it’s really cool too!”
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- Words: Emma Davidson