The Inquiry has published an update on its work.
This update provides a digest of:
- Arrangements for the resumption of hearings
- Disclosure figures
- Support arrangements during limited attendance hearings
- Contact information
- Drop-in sessions
Arrangements for the resumption of hearings
Module 1 hearings will resume on Monday 7 September and will continue to be held on a limited attendance basis. The process of risk assessment is continuous. The Government Property Agency (GPA) has recently approved suggested modifications which will allow the Inquiry to accommodate two witnesses in one hearing day when the timetable requires this. This will enable the Inquiry to maintain progress despite the current restrictions. To this end, the Inquiry will also be sitting until 16:30 on hearing days from September.
The Inquiry has written to core participants with its proposal for enabling Bereaved, Survivor and Resident core participants (BSRs) to attend hearings at the venue on Bishop’s Bridge Road as soon as it is possible, paying particular attention to the gradual easing of restrictions and using the latest government guidelines to reconfigure the venue in a way that maximises the space available. The Panel remains committed to ensuring this happens as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Everyone’s health and safety must be the overriding concern and the Inquiry works with the GPA to ensure the Inquiry venue is as safe as it can be for those who need to attend.
The gradual nature of the easing of restrictions by the Government, together with variations in the current infection rate (including increases in several London boroughs), has led the Inquiry to conclude that the resumption of hearings in September is not the right time to relax arrangements and compromise the two-metre distancing standard to enable BSR attendance in limited numbers at the venue. Whilst one-metre distancing is permissible, the required physical presence of individuals who are in more vulnerable groups compels the Inquiry to maintain two-metre distancing as per the Government recommendation.
The team is regularly in touch with other inquiries but each inquiry will be considering arrangements according to their own particular requirements assessed against the local and national public health position. As soon as the Inquiry can increase the number of people in attendance, BSR attendance will be the Panel’s main concern and they will be prioritised above all other parties.
As at 18 August 2020, the Inquiry has disclosed 20,752 documents in Phase 1, and 165,958 in Phase 2, making a total of 186,710.
Support arrangements during limited attendance hearings
During limited attendance hearings the Inquiry continues to facilitate wellbeing support as before, but it will be able to deliver the service only by telephone and video conferencing. Bereaved, survivors and residents (BSRs) and members of the public will be able to get in touch with Hestia directly to access wellbeing services by contacting 0800 246 5617 between 09:45 and 16:15, Monday to Thursday.
Hestia will provide a range of services including:
- One-to-one telephone or online support sessions that BSRs will be able to book with a counsellor during the day or at the end of the day’s hearings. Please contact Hestia on 0800 246 5617.
- Drop-in video conference group sessions (twice daily) where BSRs can join a counsellor in a peer support group to support one another and to air and talk through any feelings or concerns. These sessions will start and finish with some resilience exercises, for example paced breathing, grounding and mindfulness exercises and taught resilience tools. For more information and instructions for joining a group session please contact Hestia on 0800 246 5617.
Counselling support services continue to be available for anyone who wants to talk about their emotional wellbeing. The NHS Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service (GHWS) is here to help. If you need support, or advice, or you feel worried about yourself or someone you know, please contact the team. This is a free and confidential service for the community. GHWS is open Monday to Thursday from 09:00 to 20:00, and on Friday from 09:00 to 17:00. Their number is 0208 637 6279. More information, including how to access urgent support out of hours, can be found on the NHS website.
The Inquiry will continue to arrange interpreters on request for BSRs. This service will be delivered by telephone.
In line with social restrictions, all Inquiry team members are working remotely to ensure operations continue, but can still be contacted on 0800 121 4282 or by emailing [email protected]
The drop-in session for August has been cancelled in accordance with current guidance on public gatherings. Please email [email protected] if you wish to speak to a member of the Inquiry team.