Family members of the victims of the Grenfell fire have called for an overhaul of the inquiry procedures over worries that they are not being heard.
Ahead of the second phase of the inquiry, 38 families representing 46 of the 72 people who died in the fire worked with the charity Inquest to release the report, Family reflections on Grenfell: No voice left unheard.
The report criticises the first phase of the inquiry and sets out concerns and recommendations for how to continue.
A Change In Approach
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A key criticism in the report was the decision to hold the hearing in Holborn Bars, as families said that there was too much distance between the inquiry and the Grenfell fire site.
“Families [wanted] to be situated in front of those speaking, so they could see their faces as they spoke, and believed anyone being questioned should do so while face to face with those bereaved by the fire,” the report noted.
It is high time the inquiry team and the government listened to these voices and provide an inclusive and truthful inquiry that delivers structural change and accountability.
Deborah Coles, director of Inquest
As well as a location change, it suggested that anyone dealing directly with families of the victims should have proper training and that each survivor have a key caseworker present who is independent of the council and can work as a liaison providing information and updates on the inquiry.
The report also called for an independent, diverse decision-making inquiry panel, for public authorities to be franker in their approach to the inquiry and for a change in the way witnesses are questioned. A plan to help coordinate emergency services in the event of future disasters was also proposed.
Representing The ‘Voices’ Of Grenfell Victims
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One Grenfell survivor, Sadik Kelbeto, explained that it was essential the report is taken into consideration to pay respect to those who died.
“My whole family was wiped out by the fire. Their voices can no longer be heard. I have to represent them. I owe it to them,” Kelbeto said.
“This report is important because these are our words and our voices. The government have an obligation to listen to us. If they don’t listen to us, then who will they listen to?”
This report is important because these are our words and our voices. The government have an obligation to listen to us. If they don’t listen to us, then who will they listen to?
Sadik Kelbeto, a bereaved family member
The report insisted that so far, the bereaved families and survivors had been “left questioning the effectiveness of an inquiry that is failing to recommend life-saving changes as early as possible.”
“It is high time the inquiry team and the government listened to these voices and provide an inclusive and truthful inquiry that delivers structural change and accountability,” added Deborah Coles, the director of Inquest.
The report was welcomed by the Grenfell Inquiry, with a spokesperson saying that making it “as accessible as possible has always been a priority”.