People leave tributes to victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in Bramley Road, London. Photo by ChiralJon via Wikimedia.
The charity is offering one-on-one bereavement counselling to those affected by the fire, as well as visiting local schools, community centres and families to support children and adults coping with grief. Money raised from the appeal will help Grief Encounter continue to deliver vital bereavement support over the coming months, in what it calls a “long-term project” to help the victims.
The Grief Encounter team arrived in North Kensington last week to begin offering the long-term bereavement support services that will help survivors cope with shock and grief in the fire’s aftermath.
Dr Shelley Gilbert MBE, founder and president of Grief Encounter, who saw for herself the devastation left in the wake of the fire when she visited the local community, described the “helplessness and fear” she witnessed.
“My experience was an eye opener; even after the life-long personal and professional experiences of death and trauma I have experienced,” she said. “One 10-year old described it as ‘the worst possible nightmare.’ All spoke of their world being changed overnight, in an unimaginably bad way.”
The tragedy at Grenfell tower made headlines around the world last month when a fire started in the tower block in the early morning of June 14. Over 150 families saw their homes destroyed in the fire and are now without permanent accommodation. Many of these families also lost loved ones, or are still waiting for confirmation.
The number of people now presumed dead has risen to 80, but Scotland Yard has warned that it could take until the end of the year or longer until those who died in the fire are formally identified.
Dr Gilbert and the charity’s volunteer team are experienced in supporting grieving children and understand the devastating impact of an unexpected tragedy like the Grenfell fire.
“When something terrible happens, children may experience shock – the events may not seem real and feelings might seem frozen,” she said.
“Children might act as if nothing has happened or find it hard to believe something has happened. Sadness, grief, alarm, blame, guilt, denial or disbelief are all normal responses in these circumstances. Children find their own ways of grieving.”
Dr Gilbert spoke of the remarkable unity and comfort she found when she visited a local school located not far from Grenfell Tower.
“In the midst of this blackened despairing landscape, we found an oasis, a shining example of humanity and courage,” she said.
“It was amazing to see how the deeply saddened bereaved child naturally gravitated towards the teacher for a cuddle and comfort, hold the hand of another, and join with the children to share their deepest fears. Despite the storm and chaos outside, a sense of safety and calm greeted us – something we weren’t expecting.”
Grief Encounter is helping affected children express their shock and grief through a variety of counselling sessions, workshops and one-to-one support. The charity relies on generous donations and ongoing fundraising efforts by volunteers to continue their work.
Grief Encounter specialises in supporting grieving children and the adults caring for them. The charity’s patrons include Vicar of Dibley actress Dawn French, TV presenter and father of two Jeff Brazier, and comedian Al Murray.
To help Grief Encounter support victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, you can donate to the appeal via JustGiving.
If you’re supporting a grieving child, or trying to explain what happened at Grenfell, read more about supporting children after tragic events.