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London Buildings Turn Green for Grenfell on One Year Anniversary of the Tragedy

Some of London’s most famous landmarks were illuminated in the early hours of Thursday morning, to mark the 1-year anniversary of the devastating Grenfell fire that killed 72 people. 

From 12:54am, the time of the first emergency 999 call on June 14 2017, buildings were lit with green lights — part of the “green for Grenfell” campaign. 

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Grenfell Tower, which is now swathed in white sheetings with the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” written across the top four floors, was lit up, along with the London Eye, Downing Street, and Kensington Palace. 

Take action: Tell Theresa May to Lead a Genuinely Global Britain by Protecting the World's Poorest People

Other buildings around the capital that were also illuminated include the Cabinet Office, Islington Council, Dover House on Whitehall, and Newham Town Hall in East Ham. The BT Tower in Fitzrovia also displayed the words “Green for Grenfell”.

“We want the nation to keep Grenfell in their consciousness,” said Yvette Williams, from campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell. “The anniversary is about love and support — the fight can start again on Friday and Saturday — and keeping that humanity going on that day.” 

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A vigil was also held at 1:30am on Thursday at a church near the tower, during which the names of all 72 victims were read out. Labour MP David Lammy, who spoke at the service, described it as a “bittersweet” moment of the community celebrating their unity, but mourning those who had been lost. 

Read more: Grenfell Disaster Could Happen Again Due to 'Crowded, Unequal Cities': Report

The community is expected to gather together before a silent march that begins at 7pm. Following the march, families will meet for a community Iftar to break bread with those fasting for Ramadan. 

The “Green for Grenfell” campaign celebrates the spirit of community that has resonated from the very first hours since the fire, and continues today. 

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As news of the fire spread across the country, volunteers flocked from across London and much further afield to support those looking for missing loved ones, those whose homes had been destroyed, and those who found themselves suddenly with nothing. 

Tributes were paid to the around 200 firefighters who risked their lives and worked “through the night to secure the building and to save as many lives as possible,” according to the Fire Brigades Union at the time. 

Read more: Grenfell and Manchester Bombing Volunteers Celebrated in 'Power of Kindness' Photo Series

Donations flooded in to the point that collection centres had to turn turn them away due to lack of space, while other people took to social media to offer assistance however they could — anything from a shower to a place to stay. 

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Grenfell United, a group made up of bereaved families and survivors, wants June 14 to become an annual moment to move forward in the spirit of unity and support those affected by the most deadly domestic blaze in Britain since World War II. 

“We could have been the most angry community out there because of what happened, but we’ve chosen to be dignified, be calm,” said Natasha Elcock, one of the last residents to be rescued from the fire, on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme. 

“We really went to ensure that we change so much that Grenfell is not remembered because it killed 72 people but because it has a legacy of change — that behaviours change within social housing, the way people are treated, how they are listened to,” she said. 

Read more: 5 Moments from Notting Hill Carnival's Tribute to Grenfell That Prove Londoners Stand Together

The building illuminations are just one of the actions of solidarity in Britain to mark the anniversary. A minute’s silence was also held at midday, with the England football team joining in from the World Cup in Russia. 

On Thursday and Friday, more than 2,000 schoolchildren across the UK will also be singing a charity single, “Grenfell From Today”, inspired by the organisation Cornwall Hugs Grenfell — set up by Cornwall resident Esme Page to offer holidays to those left traumatised by the fire, to help them rebuild new memories. 

The anniversary comes just days after Prime Minister Theresa May wrote an article in the Evening Standard, saying she “will always regret” not meeting the residents of Grenfell Tower after the fire. 

“It was a tragedy unparalleled in recent history and, although many people did incredible work during and after the fire, it has long been clear that the initial response was not good enough,” she wrote. “I include myself in that.” 

Read more: Meet the British Woman Helping Grenfell Tower Survivors 'Make New Memories' in Cornwall

A year since the fire, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick, said the tragedy “remains very real, raw, and painful for many people, every day.” 

Some 52 families are reportedly still in temporary accommodation, while 83 are now in permanent homes, according to Kensington and Chelsea Council. But 68 families are still living in “emergency” accommodation — including hotels, serviced apartments, and four households that are staying with family or friends. 

Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, these include action on putting an end to inequality and creating communities and cities that are sustainable, which also means ensuring everyone has access to adequate housing and shelter. You can join us on these issues by taking action here.