Five Years Since the Grenfell Tower Fire, No Justice for Survivors, and No Safety For Hundreds of Thousands of People Trapped in Unsafe Flats

A tree decorated in memory of the 72 people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire, located close to the tower itself, on June 14, 2022, the fifth anniversary of the disaster (Photo: Andy Worthington).

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Today marks five years since the Grenfell Tower fire, a disaster that led to the deaths of 72 people, when an inferno engulfed the 24-storey tower block in North Kensington that was their home.

The disaster was foretold by those who lived in Grenfell Tower, who had found themselves ignored until it was too late by the organisation responsible for their safety — the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), which had been given control, by Kensington and Chelsea Council, of all of its social housing.

In post after post on the website of the Grenfell Action Group, residents had repeatedly warned that the KCTMO was “an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the everyday management of large scale social housing estates.”

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Now on YouTube: Tidemill Documentary ‘The Battle for Deptford’ Celebrates Community Solidarity and Resistance

The opening shot of Hat Vickers’ documentary film ‘The Battle for Deptford.’

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It’s now a month since filmmaker Hat Vickers’ documentary film ‘The Battle for Deptford’ had its world premiere at St. Nicholas’ Church, in Deptford Green, as part of the Deptford and New Cross Free Film Festival, and three weeks since it had its online premiere, and I thought it was time to do my bit to promote it, in case anyone out there who’s interested in resistance to environmental destruction and the baleful housing ‘regeneration’ market hasn’t seen it yet.

The launch was an inspiring event that brought together over 200 people, many of whom had been involved in the focal point of the film, the long struggle to save the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden, a magical community garden, and Reginald House, a structurally sound block of council flats next door, from destruction as part of a fundamentally flawed and destructive housing project. Afterwards there was a lively Q&A, at which I was one of a number of panellists, and another lively Q&A followed the online premiere a week later, revealing an appetite for the resumption of the struggle for housing justice, and against environmental destruction, that has not been dimmed by two years in which the Covid lockdowns largely prevented large-scale protests from taking place.

The struggle to save the garden and Reginald House began in 2012, when the old Tidemill primary school closed and moved to a new location in nearby Giffin Square, and Lewisham Council first proposed to redevelop the site of the school as housing, with the Victorian school buildings converted into ‘luxury’ housing, and with new residential blocks built on its former playground, and on the garden, which, with its beguiling concentric circles, its Indian bean trees, and its extensive tree cover that mitigated the worst effects of traffic pollution from nearby Deptford Church Street, had been designed by pupils, their parents and their teachers in the late 1990s. Also included in the plans was the demolition of three blocks of council flats — two on Giffin Street, and another on Reginald Road.

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Quarterly Fundraiser for ‘The State of London’; Hoping to Raise £1,000 to Support My Ongoing Photo-Journalism Project

The most recent photos in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.




 

Dear friends and supporters,

Every three months I ask you, if you can, to make a donation to support ‘The State of London’, my reader-funded photo-journalism project, for which I have no institutional backing whatsoever.

It’s now nine years and nine months since I first set out on my bike to record the changing face of London in daily photographs, and four years and nine months since I first began posting a photo a day — with an accompanying essay — on Facebook, and I’m thrilled that the project now has nearly 5,200 followers, and that so many of you clearly enjoying seeing the photos everyday, and reading the accompanying essays.

I hope, however, that you don’t mind me pointing out that, although it’s free to view and read, ‘The State of London’ is a significant daily undertaking on my part, via my bike journeys, the research I undertake for each photo chosen, sharing on social media, and responding to everyone’s comments, and even if I were to raise £1,000 it would only work out at slightly over £10 a day — way below the minimum wage!

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Celebrating 1,600 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos published as part of Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Sunday marked 1,600 days since I first began posting a daily photo of London — with an accompanying essay — on my Facebook page ‘The State of London’, drawn from the daily bike rides I’d been making for the previous five years through the 120 postcodes of the London Postal District (those beginning with WC, EC, E N, NW, SE, SW and W), which covers 241 square miles.

I’m immensely grateful to the nearly 4,800 followers ‘The State of London’ has gathered on Facebook over the last four years, and the nearly 1,100 on Twitter, and if you can make a donation to support the project, it will be very gratefully received, as I have no institutional backing, and am reliant on you, my readers, to enable me to carry on cycling and taking photos, and researching and writing the essays that accompany every photo.

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button above if you can make a donation via PayPal. The page is set to dollars, because I also use it to support my work on ongoing work campaigning to get the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed, which I began 15 years ago, but for donations in pounds, all you really need to know is the conversion rate, which is currently about 3:4, so a donation of £15, for example, would be $20.

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Quarterly Fundraiser for My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The latest photos posted in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Nine years ago, in the spring of 2012, I set out on my bike, with a small point-and-shoot Canon camera, on a mission to take photos in all 120 postcodes of the London postal district, an area of 241 square miles featuring the City and the West End (EC and WC), and the compass points that radiate out from them (E, SE, SW, W, NW and N). 

I embarked on the project after five largely sedentary years spent researching and writing about the prison at Guantánamo Bay, and an illness in 2011, in part because I wanted to get fit, but, in particular, because I wanted to get to know better the city that has been my home since I left university in 1985, and to record its multi-layered history and the significant changes that it was undergoing as it played host to the 2012 Olympic Games, and, more generally, as development money poured in to remake huge swathes of the capital for the 21st century, via an array of “regeneration” projects that largely seem to involve sidelining the genuine needs of Londoners in pursuit of profits for investors, both foreign and domestic.  

Five years in, I began posting a daily photo on Facebook from the archive I’d built up since 2012, accompanying the photos with essays intended to establish it as a photo-journalistic appraisal of the capital in all of its complexity, and I hope that, as the project has gone on, it has also improved, as I embraced better technology (upgrading to a Canon PowerShot G7X Mk. II in February 2019), became a better photographer, and increasingly devoted more time to the essays that give the photos what I regard as a necessary context.

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Fundraiser Marking the 9th Anniversary of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos posted in Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

Please click on the ‘Donate’ button below to make a donation to support my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’.





 

Dear friends and supporters of ‘The State of London’,

Today marks the ninth anniversary of when I first set out consciously on my bike, armed with a small Canon compact camera, to take photos on a daily basis of the changing face of London throughout the 241 square miles of the capital’s 120 postcodes, and the fourth anniversary of when I began posting a photo a day on ‘The State of London’ Facebook page, where I also post an essay to accompany each photo. I also post the daily photos on Twitter.

I’ve now posted 1,431 photos on Facebook, where I now have nearly 4,500 followers, as well as the many other people who keep up with the project on my personal Facebook page, and, as the project has evolved, so too have my abilities as a photographer, especially over the last two years and three months since I upgraded to my current camera, the wonderful Canon PowerShot G7X Mk. II.

Sadly, I’m currently unable to celebrate this particular milestone on my bike, as I have strained a muscle in my right leg and am encouraging myself to remain largely immobile until it has healed, but in general I’ve been out and about most days over the last nine years, and since I began posting daily photos on Facebook, the demands of the project mean that, in addition to the time spent cycling, I also spend one or two hours researching the photo of the day and writing the text to accompany it, posting the photos and responding to comments.

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Radio: I Discuss London’s Housing Crisis and Covid’s Impact on Business Rents with Andy Bungay, Plus Three Four Fathers Songs

A deserted Piccadilly Circus on Christmas Day, 2020, an unpublished photo from Andy Worthington’s photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

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Recently I spoke to Andy Bungay of Riverside Radio, a community radio station in Wandsworth, for his show ‘The Chiminea’, which was broadcast on Boxing Day, and is available here on Mixcloud.

Andy and I have been speaking for several years, and it’s always great to talk to him.  Our 50-minute segment of the two and a half hour show began just under 21 minutes in, when Andy played ‘Fighting Injustice’, the first of three songs by my band The Four Fathers, which has long been a live favourite, and whose chorus is something of a mantra of mine — “If you ain’t fighting injustice / You’re living on the dark side.”

We then began our discussion by taking about my photo-journalism project ‘The State of London’, which I began in 2012, and which involves me cycling and taking photos on a daily basis throughout London’s 120 postcodes, and, since 2017, posting a photo a day, with an accompanying story, on Facebook.

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3,000 Days of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

Some of the most recent photos from ‘The State of London’ on Facebook, where I post a photo a day from eight years of photos taken on bike rides around the capital.

Check out all ‘The State of London’ photos here!

Please feel free to support my work on ‘The State of London’, for which I have no institutional funding. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

My photo-journalism project ’The State of London’ has just reached a noteworthy milestone — 3,000 days since I first consciously went out on my bike, on May 11, 2012, to cycle around London taking photos to chronicle the fabric of London and the many changes wrought upon it, beginning with the upheaval that attended the capital’s role as the host city of the 2012 Olympic Games. I began posting a photo a day on Facebook on the fifth anniversary of that first trip, on May 11, 2017, and have been posting a photo a day for the 1,176 days since.

In the eight years since, I have taken many tens of thousands of photos, covering all 120 of London’s postcodes in the 241 square miles of the London postal district (those beginning EC, WC, W, NW, N, E, SE and SW), with a particular focus on central London — the City (EC1 to EC4) and the West End (WC1, WC2 and W1), and the immediate surrounding postcodes (SE1, SW1, NW1, N1 and E1) — and with other clusters of repeated activity in the whole of south east London, where I live, in east London, most readily accessed via the Greenwich Foot Tunnel, and in parts of south west London — particularly, it seems, Brixton, Vauxhall and Battersea and Chelsea — and west London; especially Paddington, Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove.

These 3,000 days have not only been a way of keeping physically fit; they have also played a major role in ensuring some sort of mental equilibrium amidst the general chaos of the state of the world — even if some aspects of ‘The State of London’ have added to my sense of rage rather than placating it; in particular, the colossal and colossally expensive construction projects that have transformed the city to an alarming degree over the last eight years.

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The Four Fathers Release New Existential Song ‘The Wheel of Life’, As Bandcamp Waives Its Revenue Share to Help Musicians

The cover of ‘The Wheel of Life’ by The Four Fathers, designed by drummer Bren Horstead.

My band The Four Fathers have just released the last of three songs we recorded before the coronavirus hit, with the multi-talented musician and producer Charlie Hart, whose illustrious career involves playing with Ian Dury in Kilburn and the High Roads, many years with Ronnie Lane, after he left the Faces, in Slim Chance, and several occasions spent working with the wonderful Congolese singer Samba Mapangala.

The release is ‘The Wheel of Life’, a meditation on aging, and on the importance of living in the moment, which I hope has some resonance right now, as we all try to cope with the impact of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, which brought our thoughtlessly excessive lifestyles to an abrupt halt three months ago, but which has also precipitated a forthcoming recession of possibly terrifying proportions, as well as silencing all forms of culture that involves live interaction at close quarters.

Live music is just one the casualties of this strange new world, and while we try to work out how to resume entertaining one another in a live context, creative people are suffering. In an attempt to help, Bandcamp, the US online music service, which we use in preference to streaming companies, has been waiving its fees on specific days throughout the coronavirus lockdowns, starting on March 20, when music fans spent “$4.3 million on music and merch — 15x the amount of a normal Friday — helping artists cover rents, mortgages, groceries, medications, and so much more”, and followed by May 1, when fans paid artists $7.1 million, and June 5, when fans paid artists $4.8 million.

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COVID-19 and the Economic Meltdown: Was Global Tourism the Only Thing Keeping Us Afloat?

Grounded planes in Alabama, March 25, 2020 (Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Reuters).

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Three months since the arrival of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 prompted an unprecedented lockdown on human interaction and on huge swathes of our economy, the primary objective — preventing our hospitals and morgues from being overwhelmed — has been achieved. The cost — economically, and, in some cases, psychologically — has been enormous, but the road ahead, as those in charge attempt to revive a functioning economy, looks like it will be even more arduous.

No congratulations should be extended to Boris Johnson and his government for the achievements of the lockdown. Johnson dithered for far too long at the beginning of the crisis, and the deaths of tens of thousands of people are, as a result, his responsibility, although not his responsibility alone, as the last few months have also shown us that, sadly, this empty windbag of a Prime Minister is largely manipulated by his senior adviser, the sneering eugenicist Dominic Cummings.

Both men were initially prepared to allow the virus to spread unchecked throughout the entire population, with people required to “take it on the chin”, as they let it “move through the population”, as Johnson explained in a now notorious TV appearance. It was only when medical experts pointed out the potential death toll of the “herd immunity” scenario that the lockdown began, following similar conclusions that were, in most other countries, reached rather earlier in the virus’s spread.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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