Column: Grenfell shows the best of community spirit

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster
Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, Bishop of Lancaster

I do think that it was a big ask for many of the ensuing problems around the Grenfell Tower disaster to be solved overnight.

However, rather than allocate blame especially towards central and local government let’s appreciate some of the groups which responded well.

How encouraging to see faith and community groups opening their doors and becoming relief centres for traumatised survivors and many others.

Churches, mosques and community centres became emergency relief depots and counselling centres.

Church leaders made all sorts of moves to link people with the right means of support and help.

My colleague, Graham Tomlin, the Bishop of Kensington, was on the spot when asked by 10 Downing Street to facilitate a meeting between the Prime Minister and local residents.

He was able to do this because the local parish church had a solid record of many years of worship, witness and community building.

Residents, many full of confusion and anger, could feel that the church offered a trusted and safe space.

Our communities work best when there is close working between statutory and voluntary bodies. There are lots of things voluntary bodies and community groups cannot provide.

But local groups of all faiths, and none, often provide the human touch lacking in the overarching provision.

I see it in Lancaster when the churches provide meals for the homeless, take time to talk and listen to individuals.

And when there are sad funerals to attend it is usually volunteers from the churches who attend.

Let’s be thankful that in the middle of the night when the crisis occurred in London there were people around to open buildings and welcome inside those who were hurting.

There were people to pray and weep with and to demonstrate some much-needed compassion.