Grenfell survivors and families of the 72 victims will come together and remember their loved ones two years after the tower block fire.
Friday marks 24 months since a small kitchen fire in a west London high-rise turned into the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War.
Bereaved families will gather for a memorial service at the nearby St Helen’s Church in the morning, which will set the tone for a day of remembrance.
Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist and Grenfell survivor Leanne Mya will sing during the service, which will also be attended by Communities Secretary James Brokenshire and fire minister Nick Hurd.
Afterwards white doves will be released, and later there will be a private gathering by the tower where survivors and bereaved will lay wreaths.
Karim Mussilhy, whose uncle died in the fire, said it is important to stand together and continue campaigning because “we want to make sure the general public understand that the issues of Grenfell are still happening today”.
He told the Press Association: “Our plan is to come together with the rest of the community and be with each other, share some tears with each other, smiles with each other, and put our arms around each other and remember our loved ones and pay our respects.
“We also want to be a presence to everyone else, show them that we are still here and we are still standing strong together, dignified, respectful, we aren’t going to go away, we’re not going to fade away and we’re not going to let others forget our loved ones and for us to be swept under the carpet.”
For just over a year the building has stood surrounded by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” emblazoned across the four highest floors.
The community will soon vote for representatives to sit on a commission to determine its fate.
Legal responsibility for the land will be handed over to the Government later this month.
From early evening on Friday, a multi-faith vigil will be held in the area surrounding the high-rise, followed by the silent walk that has taken place on the 14th of each month for two years.
Like last year, it is understood that survivors and the bereaved will not do interviews on the day of the anniversary.
Yvette Williams, a co-ordinator of campaign group Justice 4 Grenfell, said there was an atmosphere of heaviness in the community following a series of setbacks, including the public inquiry’s first report being delayed and the news that any criminal charges will come after the probe has concluded.
People are “increasingly feeling a sense of injustice, rather than a walk to justice,” she said.
She told the Press Association: “For us the anniversary is always focused on the 72. So you kind of think, what have we really done for them over the last two years, how many steps towards justice have been made?”
She added: “I think foremost in people’s minds will be: 72 dead, still no arrests, how come?
“And I think that people are seeing almost a two tier system. We have had prosecutions – we’ve had loads of them, and they’ve been the opportunists and fraudsters that said they lived in the tower and claimed public resources.
“The major players … we’ve heard a few people have gone in for questioning, they’re roaming free.”
Staff at Kensington and Chelsea Council will also gather at the town hall to pay their respects.
Council leader Elizabeth Campbell said: “Our thoughts are with those families who lost their loved ones two years ago.
“Council staff have never stopped caring and never stopped working, and this will continue to be the case when every family is in their new home and starting to rebuild their lives, and we are now working with our NHS colleagues, who will be crucial in this long-term effort.”
Prime Minister Theresa May said: “Two years on from the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, my thoughts remain with the bereaved, the survivors and the whole North Kensington community.
“Grenfell was both a local and a national tragedy with far-reaching consequences. In the months and years ahead, I hope future Governments will continue to do everything necessary to support all those affected and make certain the voices of the Grenfell community are heard.
“We must not forget all those who lost their lives and we must ensure that the Inquiry continues its important work to establish the truth of what happened that terrible night and why.”
Mr Brokenshire said: “I am committed to continuing to support the community and remembering those whose lives were lost on 14 June 2017.
“This Government is determined to improve building safety, to search for the truth and to ensure no such tragedy can ever happen again.”
Timeline: Grenfell two years on
– June 14 2017
At 12.54am, a call is made to the London Fire Brigade reporting fire has broken out in a fourth floor flat.
Barely half an hour later, at 1.29am, flames have now climbed to the top floor of the 24-storey block.
– June 28 2017
Retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick is appointed to lead a public inquiry into the disaster.
He provokes alarm among survivors and bereaved families by initially expressing doubt that his investigation would be broad enough to satisfy all.
A public consultation is launched to determine the probe’s terms of reference.
– July 28 2017
The Government announces an independent review into building regulations will be led by Dame Judith Hackitt.
It is alleged that they are complex, unclear and leave enough wriggle room for contractors to cut corners on safety.
– August 15 2017
The terms of reference of the inquiry are announced.
It will include the cause of the fire and the actions of authorities before and after the blaze, but not broader concerns about the treatment of social tenants in Britain.
– September 19 2017
The Metropolitan Police announce a widening of their criminal investigation, with detectives now considering individual as well as corporate manslaughter charges.
– November 16 2017
More than five months on from the disaster, police say their final estimate for the number of people who died in the fire is 70, plus a stillborn baby.
– November 30 2017
A petition, backed by singer Adele, is set up urging Mrs May to appoint additional panel members alongside the inquiry chairman.
It is feared that Sir Martin will lack valuable first-hand experience of life as a social tenant in a multicultural neighbourhood.
– December 22 2017
Theresa May turns down the request from survivors and bereaved families to overhaul the public inquiry, saying Sir Martin has the “necessary expertise to undertake its work”.
– January 29 2018
Maria del Pilar Burton, a 74-year-old survivor known as Pily, dies in palliative care. She had been in a care home, unable to return to her husband Nicholas, since the fire.
She comes to be considered the 72nd victim of the fire.
– February 9 2018
Serial conman Anh Nhu Nguyen is jailed after pretending his family died in the fire to gain around £11,270 from charities and the local council.
He is the first of 15 people to be convicted and jailed for fraudulent claims totalling more than £700,000 in relation to the fire.
– May 17 2018
Dame Judith Hackitt recommends “fundamental reform” to improve fire safety in her report, which identifies a “race to the bottom” in building safety practices with cost prioritised over safety.
Ministers promise to consult on banning flammable cladding.
– May 21 2018
The inquiry begins seven days of commemoration hearings to the dead, starting with a heartbreaking tribute to the fire’s youngest victim, stillborn Logan Gomes.
– June 4 2018
Sir Martin’s inquiry begins hearing opening statements from lawyers and a batch of expert reports are released.
– June 14 2018
A year after the fire, survivors and bereaved relatives gather for a church service and observe a minute’s silence by the tower.
They are joined by rapper Stormzy, and later Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Inquiry hearings pause for a week.
– June 21 2018
Firefighter evidence begins. It ends with Commissioner Dany Cotton telling the inquiry she would change nothing about her team’s response on the night of the fire.
Survivors and the bereave react with anger.
– July 18 2018
Scotland Yard announces detectives have carried out three interviews under caution and more will take place over the coming months.
– September 12 2018
Inquiry chairman Sir Martin resists pressure to make “urgent” safety recommendations, including a ban on flammable cladding, instead proposing a formal process where suggestions can be made.
– September 30 2018
The Government bans the use of combustible cladding on all new residential buildings above 18 metres, as well as schools, care homes, student accommodation and hospitals.
– 3 October 2018
Survivors, those who lost family in the fire and local residents begin giving evidence at the inquiry.
– 12 October 2018
Tests on soil and dust reveal “huge concentrations” of potential carcinogens around Grenfell Tower, the Guardian reports.
Preliminary results from Professor Anna Stec’s study reveal toxins that could have health implications for residents.
Campaigning group Grenfell United writes to ministers requesting “urgent detail” and a public meeting.
– 12 December 2018
The first phase of the inquiry ends. Sir Martin announces the second phase is unlikely to begin until the end of 2019.
He also announces they are hoping to move to a west London venue for the next phase, after prolonged criticism from the Grenfell community about the inaccessibility of its current location.
– March 6 2019
No charges are likely to be brought in the criminal investigation into the Grenfell Tower fire for at least the next two years, police say.
The Metropolitan Police said it would be “wrong” not to wait for the final report of the Grenfell Tower Inquiry which will come after the probe’s second phase.
Survivors call the wait “extremely frustrating and disheartening”.
– May 17 2019
The first report of the public inquiry, due to be released in Spring, is delayed until October. Campaigners call the delay “disgraceful” .
– May 30 2019
The Prime Minister appoints two new inquiry panel members to sit alongside Sir Martin in the second phase of the probe – a “step forward” welcomed by survivors.