Grenfell fire: Faith groups 'had to fill in the gaps' left by council, says report

Faith groups responding to the Grenfell Tower fire filled a void left by Kensington Council, a report published today says.

Religious organisations were able to respond amid the chaos and 'stood out' for their response against the 'widespread' view that the council had failed residents, it claims.

A wall of condolences was created outside the Latymer Christian Centre and Community

'Churches, mosques, synagogues and gurdwaras all stepped up to the plate, responding practically, emotionally and spiritually to a moment of pain and confusion,' says After Grenfell: the Faith Groups' Response, by the religious think tank Theos.

'The Council were not great – [the faith groups] had to fill in the gaps,' one interviewee told the think tank.

'The Council collapsed. Groups like St Helen's Church, The ClementJames Centre, and The Westway Centre, "became" the local government, as people lost trust in the Council. But people don't lose trust suddenly, it was lost before,' another said.

Criticising the council's effort, another said: 'Surely it's for the state to step in in a crisis; churches and other faith groups can only support, not lead the effort themselves.'

The report calls on councils around the country to liaise with local faith groups in preparing for potential disasters and suggested religious groups establish databases of volunteers for use in an emergency.

Introducing the report, Elizabeth Oldfield, director of the think tank, said the research found that faith groups responded 'rapidly, compassionately and holistically'.

She said: 'We hope nothing like Grenfell will ever happen again, but even if it does not, no community is immune from the potential for tragedy, whether it be terrorism, flooding, or the kind of knife crime that is currently plaguing London.'

The report comes as the public inquiry into the disaster, which killed 72 people and left hundreds homeless, heard heartbreaking accounts over the last two weeks from those who survived the fire.