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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Videos: Speeches at the Close Guantánamo Protest in London, Jan. 8, 2022, Including Andy Worthington and John McDonnell MP

Screenshots from videos of Andy Worthington and John McDonnell MP speaking at a rally in Trafalgar Square calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay on January 8, 2022.

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Back in January, campaigners in the UK, calling for the closure of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, put up with torrential rain while marching from Parliament to Trafalgar Square, where a rally was held, with speakers including John McDonnell MP and myself, calling for the closure of the prison just days before the 20th anniversary of its opening on January 11.

The protest was coordinated via the Guantánamo Network, a coalition of concerned groups including Amnesty International, Close Guantánamo, Freedom From Torture, the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign, and it was also attended by a number of Julian Assange supporters. Particular thanks are due to Sara Birch, the Guantánamo Network’s convenor, who is part of the Lewes Amnesty Group, and “under whose energetic leadership”, as I have previously explained, “Lewes has become something of an epicentre for Guantánamo activism.”

39 campaigners, hooded and dressed in orange jumpsuits, represented the men still held in the prison at the time, and, despite the rain, created an eye-catching protest, as I recorded in photos I took on the day.

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A Fundraiser Marking the 10th Anniversary of My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos from Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London‘, which marks its 10th anniversary on May 11, 2022.

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





 

Ten years ago today, on May 11, 2012, I set out on my bike, with a little Canon camera that my wife had bought me for Christmas, to record the ever-changing landscape of London in photographs, intending to visit and take photos in all 120 postcodes of the London Postal District (those beginning with WC, EC, E N, NW, SE, SW and W), which covers 241 square miles. It took me two and a half years to visit every postcode at least once, and rather longer to find the camera that particularly suited the requirements of the project. In February 2019, after a number of upgrades, I ended up with the camera I still have, a Canon PowerShot G7X Mk. II, and if I have one regret about this project, it’s that I didn’t buy it sooner.

Back in May 2012, I had no idea where this journey would take me, but ten years later it has become a running commentary on the best and the worst of this sprawling, infuriating and sometimes inspiring city that has been my home for the last 37 years.

Exactly five years after I first embarked on this photographic project, on May 11, 2017, I set up the Facebook page ‘The State of London’ to post a photo a day, with an accompanying essay, from these journeys, where I have now posted nearly 1,800 photos and essays, and where, I’m delighted to report, the project now has over 5,000 likes and over 5,400 followers. I also post the daily photos on Twitter, where the page has over 1,250 followers.

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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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Photos and Report: The Wet But Spirited Close Guantánamo Protest in London, Jan. 8, 2022, and an Online Gathering of Former Prisoners

Campaigners across the road from 10 Downing Street during the Guantánamo Network’s march and rally against the continued existence of Guantánamo on Jan. 8, 2022 (Photo: Andy Worthington).

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

It would be hard to imagine more challenging weather conditions than the torrential rain that dogged a protest against the continued existence of Guantánamo in central London yesterday, marking the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison in two days’ time.

39 campaigners in orange jumpsuits and hoods — representing the 39 men still held — marched in solemn procession from the Houses of Parliament, around Parliament Square and up Whitehall, stopping opposite 10 Downing Street, and ending up at Trafalgar Square. Each campaigner carried a laminated sheet featuring a photo of one of the prisoners, as well as their name and nationality.

The protest was organised by the Guantánamo Network, a coalition of groups that includes members of various Amnesty International groups, myself as the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign, two long-running London-based Guantánamo groups (the Guantánamo Justice Campaign and the London Guantánamo Campaign), and Freedom From Torture. Particular thanks are due to Sara Birch, the Guantánamo Network’s convenor, who is part of the Lewes Amnesty Group — and under whose energetic leadership Lewes has become something of an epicentre for Guantánamo activism.

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Close Guantánamo Events to Mark the 20th Anniversary of the Opening of the Prison

Campaigners (and former prisoner Mansoor Adayfi) call for the closure of Guantánamo on Jan. 5, 2022, when it had been open for 7,300 days.

Please support my work as a reader-funded journalist! I’m currently trying to raise $2500 (£2000) to support my writing and campaigning on Guantánamo and related issues over the next three months. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.




 

I wrote the following article for the “Close Guantánamo” website, which I established in January 2012, on the 10th anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo, with the US attorney Tom Wilner. Please join us — just an email address is required to be counted amongst those opposed to the ongoing existence of Guantánamo, and to receive updates of our activities by email.

As we approach a grim anniversary that all decent people hoped would never arrive — the 20th anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay — I’m taking part in a number of events to mark the anniversary — mostly online, although a few are carefully organized live events — along with Tom Wilner, with whom I co-founded the Close Guantánamo campaign ten years ago. We are also both available for interviews and media appearances.

Yesterday, the prison had been open for 7,300 days, and as I noted in a message to President Biden, to accompany his photo as part of our ongoing poster campaign, “How did this happen? It’s nearly a year since you took office, and yet you have only released one prisoner, even though 13 others — out of the 39 men still held — have been approved for release by high-level U.S. government review processes. Eight of these men have been approved for release since you took office, and yet none of them have been freed. Approving men for release means nothing unless they are actually freed.”

As I also explained, “In six days’ time, Guantánamo will have been open for 20 years. This is a truly shameful anniversary, and yet, despite making noises about wanting to close the prison, you and your administration have done nothing to demonstrate that you actually mean it. Please show some courage. Release the men approved for release, and announce how you intend to close the prison once and for all.”

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Celebrating 1700 Days of my Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

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

If you can, please support ‘The State of London’, which is an entirely reader-supported project, with a donation. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.





 

Today marks 1,700 days since I first began posting a photo a day — plus accompanying essays — on ‘The State of London’ Facebook page; photos that were either taken on the day, or were drawn from the photos I’d started taking on bike rides throughout London’s 120 postcodes five years earlier. For anyone keeping count, that means that it’s now 3,526 days since I first set out on my bike to capture the changing face of London.

In the last 1,700 days, my ability to take photos has, I think, improved in general (largely because of the upgrade to my current camera, a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mk. II, in February 2019), and I have also, increasingly, devoted much more time to the essays that accompany each photo. I’m gratified to see that the project has steadily been gaining support, so that I recently welcomed my 5,000th follower.

As I have delved deeper into London’s history on my journeys, and in the research for the photos, I have come to recognize how resilient London is as a city, despite having lost so much in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and in the German bombing raids in World War II. Nevertheless, as I realized as soon as I began the project in May 2012, it has also recently been invaded, not by fire, or by a wartime enemy, but by predatory transnational capital, building huge new towers of offices in the City of London, and high-rise residential towers in Canary Wharf and in numerous former industrial sites across the capital (the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area, for example), all eagerly facilitated by conniving politicians and generally supine architects.

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Quarterly Fundraiser for My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’: Can You Help Me Raise £1,000?

The latest 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,

It’s now over four and a half years since I first began to post photos — and accompanying essays — on Facebook, as ‘The State of London’, from the archive of photos that I’d been building up since I first began cycling with a camera and a curious eye throughout London’s 120 postcodes five years before, in May 2012.

This has, from the beginning, been a labour of love. No one asked me to do it, and no one was paying me to do it either, but as time has gone on and the project has become more popular (with nearly 5,000 followers now on Facebook), I have also devoted more and more time to it — particularly through the research I undertake into the subjects of my photos, and the essays I write to accompany my daily posts, which I know many of you appreciate.

As a result, earlier this year I began posting quarterly fundraisers asking you to make a donation, if you can, to support ‘The State of London.’ If you can help out, please click on the “Donate” button above to make a payment via PayPal. Any amount will be gratefully received — whether it’s £5, £10, £20 or more!

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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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Please Make A Donation to Support My Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’

The most recent photos – posted one a day – in Andy Worthington’s 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’,

It’s nearly nine years since I first set off on my bike to record London in photos on daily trips through the 241 square miles of the capital’s 120 postcodes — and nearly four years since I began posting a photo a day on Facebook, where I also post an accompanying essay to accompany each photo, and on Twitter.

At the time of writing, I’ve posted 1,350 photos on Facebook, and I’m delighted to note that the Facebook page currently has 4,250 followers, as well as the many other people who keep up with the project on my personal Facebook page.

I’m grateful for all the interest — and the wonderful supportive comments that I receive on a gratifyingly regular basis — but today I’d like to ask you, if you are able, to make a donation to support ‘The State of London’, as I have no financial backing whatsoever, and I’m relying on you to keep me going.

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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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