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  1. ITV Report

The spirit born out of the Grenfell Tower tragedy that kept a community going

On the night of the Grenfell tragedy Zahera Ghaswala found herself cooking for hundreds of people at a mosque she had never been to before.

Ms Ghaswala, who lives ten miles from the Grenfell Tower, had gathered friends and headed toward to fire to help in whatever way possible.

"I got a group of five, got in the car, went to the local cash and carry bought chicken rice, all the ingredients for cooking, then we drove down," she told ITV News.

"We weren’t even allowed in, all the roads were closed. So, a police officer, we had to show the chicken and stuff and say we were cooking."

"We thought let’s get in and start cooking; we made chicken curry and rice."

Poor advice and a lack of fire safeguards meant many residents in Grenfell Tower were helpless when the fire broke out.

At such a late hour, most of those available to help were Muslims, only awake because they had been celebrating Ramadan.

Tabassum Awan immediately headed toward the fire after watching the disaster unfold on TV.

Tabassum Awan had also never been to the centre before. Credit: ITV News

"My first reaction as go outside go towards the building, I couldn’t go further because the police had stopped people coming in further."

She heard from a friend that a local mosque had opened to offer support and despite having never been to the centre before, she called and asked if she could help.

"Literally from that day on I was here from morning 'til night, mostly at the reception, and the front area, handing people, whether they were people giving donations, the victims, or the family of victims."

The reason the mosque was open was down to the quick thinking of Ahmed Ali as he sought shelter for the many left helpless around him.

It was thanks to Ahmed Ali that the local mosque opened and offered support to victims. Credit: ITV News

"I saw the caretaker of the mosque and said: 'Can you open the mosque?'"

"He wouldn’t believe me, but he phoned the director and the director said 'yes open the door', and that’s when a lot of people came here."

Omar Salha was driving back from a Ramadan celebration when he first heard about the fire.

Omar Salha called up local centres in the area to see how he could help. Credit: ITV News

He remembered: "Our hearts were like 'we should go in and help as many people as we can', but our minds were like, 'no it's insane to do something like that, and obviously at the time the instructions were not to go in.'"

Instead he called up local centres in the area to see how he could help and collect what was most needed in the hour of crisis.

"I found out at that time, sanitary products, wipes, nappies were needed ... and also hot meals which we were providing," he said.

"We arrived in our van, there were a massive queue of people in their cars waiting to offload and load, and move on."

Locals have came together following the tragedy. Credit: ITV News

The community of strangers helped hundreds of people that night.

Ms Awan, manning the phonelines, was touched by the spirit that saw people of all faiths, or of no faith at all, pulling together.

"I remember one guy coming in, he was Christian, he had just lost his brother, he wanted to light a candle, so myself and the director went around looking for a candle for him to give him," she recalled.

"He just thanked us and was so grateful, it meant a lot to him and that shows the beauty of this place and making it so open."

A year on, the nearby tower is now completely covered by white sheeting, with banners featuring the green Grenfell heart and the words "Grenfell forever in our hearts" emblazoned across the four highest floors.

As a tribute the mosque has renamed one of its rooms: Grenfell.

In the midst of tragedy and the ramifications of the failures that saw so many lose their lives that night, those who acted to help others believe their community shone at its brightest.

Super cook Ms Ghaswala said: "It brought people together, it’s like we’ve attached the puzzles and we’ve become one picture.

"I've met so many new people, so many inspiring people, it’s like my mosque, my people here, and it's made us so attached, like DNA, like siblings and that's how we are really."