I have grown up in and continue to live in the heart of Notting Hill Carnival.
I consider the Carnival to be a part of who I am and I am proud to be the product of such a diverse and multi cultural area. It hasn't always been a nice area either. We grew up in a ghetto surrounded by yardies, crack heads, pimps and prostitutes. Constantly looking over your shoulder wondering what would happen next. I've had friends who have been stabbed, slashed and even killed. You had to be streetwise to dodge the dodgers. That was all until 1999....
Bring forth the film, Notting Hill and it all changed! The rich get richer and social housing has all but disappeared.
On 14th of June I was awoken by the sound of so many helicopters and sirens I thought I was in a war zone. It was 2am and as I exited my bedroom all I saw was a red billowing inferno. Yes, Grenfell Tower was blazing before my eyes. I stood on my balcony in my pyjamas crying. I couldn't believe the sight before my eyes and can truly say it's the most hideous thing I've ever seen.
Today, the charred remains loom over us as a constant reminder. My neighbours feel guilty they couldn't help and have boarded up their windows to block out the sight. I feel angry that it happened at all and that nobody is taking action!
Depression has descended over the area. Around 30 have attempted suicide, 300 are awaiting counselling for PTSD and self medicating with alcohol and drugs is on the rise. We are at a loss and the building will remain until late 2018. Can I look at it that long?
The Carnival went ahead despite the mixed feelings of the locals. Most of us didn't want it as there was an air of disrespect to the occasion. I didn't hang around for it and went to Barcelona. 34 years has taken its toll on me.
I took this photo a few days after the Carnival.
I feel it represents my area well. The contemplation of the locals, the carnival colours and the never ending message of love for Grenfell.
Yes, we are urban and gritty although, currently, we do not feel very pretty.
We will come back fighting strong because when you come from Grove you don't stay down for long ❤️💚💛