The hidden mental-health legacy of Grenfell Tower

Photo of The hidden mental-health legacy of Grenfell Tower

For many survivors of the deadly fire in London two years ago, the inferno unleashed deep-seated traumas from their past

Last November, Amina Thomson, who describes herself as a faith-based psychotherapist, was having lunch in the kitchen cafe at the al-Manaar Muslim cultural heritage centre in north Kensington. After the fire at Grenfell Tower half a mile away in June 2017, the basement kitchen had become recognised as the heartbeat of the local community, as it tried to cope with the ongoing aftershocks of the tragedy in which 72 people died. Meghan Markle had helped to launch a bestselling charity cookbook with the women who volunteered there each day.

The kitchen may have become a byword for resilience and compassion, but that lunchtime Thomson, 55, a quietly spoken and bright-eyed presence, was listening to a conversation at a neighbouring table and feeling that something was not quite right. A woman bereaved in the Grenfell fire was sobbing and her friends, sitting with her, though sympathetic, were insisting she dry her eyes, saying that the time for tears had passed.

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