In June 2017 a fire that broke out in Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey public housing development, killed 71 people and left hundreds without a home. Since then, many efforts to rebuild the community and to support the survivors have sought to overcome the practical ramifications of the disaster.
The community has only just started to confront the longer-term issues that arise from such a collective trauma: depression, isolation, post traumatic stress disorder and community fragmentation, to name a few.
There is no roadmap to respond adequately to an event of this nature, both unexpected and unprecedented in London. But the people of Grenfell have told us that they need to re-establish security and community, to seek justice for their loss, and to find a way to move forward with hope.
This calls for many different players – from established care-giving institutions like the NHS, to less obvious supporters including technology companies, the creative industries and even football clubs – to come forward and co-create new solutions with the community.
At Fred, we believe that by combining technology, behavioural science and active community engagement, we can play our part. In partnership with the NHS, QPR football club, Grenfell United and Rugby Portobello Trust – and the Grenfell community itself – we are exploring virtual reality as an innovative engagement tool, a means to build mental resilience, promote collective healing and develop new skills.
Together we are building a positive future for Grenfell, testing new ways to build community capacity in challenging environments and having fun while we do it.