Affirmation of solidarity and commitment to offer respite, healing and hope to those affected by the Grenfell fire, into 2018. Produced by John Stubbington

Turning on the radio or TV in this week so close to Christmas, it’s impossible to avoid the fact that it has been 6 months since the horrific events of the fire at Grenfell Tower. It was a night of unimaginable terror that took the lives of so many families, and devastated a community.

From the sanctuary of our distant sitting rooms, we could barely watch. But laid on one woman’s heart was the hope that light could penetrate this darkness, and that Cornwall had a part to play in that. So, Esme Page set to work to put a holiday in our county on the horizon of everyone affected by the fire – residents and firefighters alike – and Cornwall Hugs Grenfell was born.

So far, 175 guests have been blessed with a holiday here. Thanks to the generosity of Cornish businesses, guests have enjoyed free accommodation, activities and attractions. Transportation has been donated as well as hampers, food for the cupboards and fridges where they were staying and even wellie boots and rain macs for the children – this is Cornwall after all!

Reaching out to Cornish clergy and congregations

With the national memorial service taking place at St Paul’s Cathedral this Thursday, Esme is reaching out to all the clergy and congregations in Cornwall to ask that we stand together in solidarity with those in London with a simple prayer, dedication of a hymn or other act of remembrance.

Joining the survivors, neighbours and responders, Esme will represent Cornwall and all those who have felt moved to contribute to the project. So far, that’s about 1000 people in Cornwall, an extraordinary number, all of whom gave generously and often spontaneously, resulting in a project that blessed the guests and the hosts in equal measure.

As Esme says, “The project has brought together in service and love, people of all faiths and none. It is very likely someone in your congregation has been involved. Especially, we want to thank congregations across the county for supporting the project with prayer, donations, volunteers and encouragement. This has and continues to be a walk of faith with amazing timely provision.”

“It means the world to see our children smiling and laughing from their hearts again”

Such provision brought squeals of delight when children from the most recent group ran into their holiday homes in mid-November, not just because of all the wonderful blessings, but because, for one week, they got to live as a family in a proper house. For too many, six months in, ‘home’ is still a temporary hotel room, adding strain to family life already stretched beyond most people’s endurance.

Says Fatima Al Hajar, mother of four, Our kids enjoyed themselves so much that for a week they haven’t mentioned anything about the fire. It means the world to us to see our children smiling and laughing from their hearts once again. You have given us a great opportunity to be away from our area and just relax and leave stress behind us. I have lost a close friend and also my son’s best friend in the fire. We have had emotional support from different professionals, but coming to Cornwall was indescribable therapy just by talking to the kind and welcoming people of Cornwall and the fresh air.”

Cornwall to Kensington, standing together

To mark the six-month anniversary of the fire, John Stubbington has produced the illustration, “Cornwall to Kensington, We Stand Together” for Cornwall Hugs Grenfell. It beautifully re-affirms their solidarity and commitment to offer respite, healing and hope to those affected by the fire, into 2018. As Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner, says,

Esme Page & Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner

“I look at the work of Cornwall Hugs Grenfell in grateful wonder. The generous support to those survivors and responders who require recuperation, many recovering from invisible trauma because of this terrible tragedy, is an example of the best people can offer each other in adversity. And they’re doing it from 300 miles away! I’m proud to stand with Cornwall Hugs Grenfell into 2018.”

Over 300 people are registered for respite holidays, hoping to come next year. What Cornwall Hugs Grenfell needs more than anything are our ongoing prayers and support. To find out how to get involved click on the link Cornwall Hugs Grenfell