A councillor who grew up playing in Grenfell Tower and watched heartbroken as it burned and its residents died has been formally appointed Deputy Mayor of Kensington and Chelsea Council .
Beinazir Lasharie took up the position at the full council meeting on Wednesday (September 27) night, and gave a moving acceptance speech which was soaked with tears, emotion, heartbreak and fight, and concluded with a rousing standing ovation.
She was welcomed to the position by Mayor Marie Therese Rossi, and said the Lancaster West estate, of which Grenfell Tower is part, had been the hub of her family since they had moved there in 1983 as political refugees.
Cllr Lasharie said accepting the job of Deputy Mayor meant she could meet a wider community and thank front-line organisations who had helped with the relief effort since the June 14 fire , and support survivors, bereaved families and the community.
She said Grenfell Tower overlooked her home, and from her aunty’s flat on the 16th floor of the building she was able to look down at her own balcony.
“I remember as kids we’d go up to the roof and look down, and we’d play knock down ginger and we’d run down the stairs,” she said.
Fighting back and often succumbing to tears, Cllr Lasharie said it was the first and last thing she would see when she left her home, before talking about the night of the fire.
She spoke about the relief she felt seeing friends escape the building, but then thought about others she knew, some of whom she had seen spent time with just a few hours earlier.
“No-one could comprehend what was happening in front of our eyes," she said.
She recounted being told to run and leave their homes in case the tower collapsed: “I ran barefoot with my children in the chaos.
"My son was shaking and asking ‘why was the tower on fire?’.
“Watching the building burn like that we stood, all of us numb, at the end of the Walkways, silently shocked, thinking of the people who might still be up there.
She went on: “There’s no going back from this. It’s changed everything.
“The culture in this council has got to change. Those people aren’t here to tell their story but the council doors need to stay open for the bereaved families and the survivors.
“The council is responsible for all of us and unless we put ourselves forward we won’t be heard.”
Concluding, she said: “I want to serve to remind everyone that we are here, we are to be heard and we are to be included.”
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