• Tuesday, April 23, 2024


Campaign aims to ‘secure legacy of Windrush story’

Race and equality campaigners, community organisations and politicians gathered in parliament at an event to acknowledge the efforts of the 75th Windrush anniversary

By: Eastern Eye

A NETWORK and website have been launched to “deepen public conversation about race in Britain and press for future change”.

Dozens of race and equality campaigners, community organisations and politicians gathered in parliament last Thursday (7) at an event to acknowledge the efforts of the 75th Windrush anniversary this year.

In June, the UK marked 75 years since the arrival of the Empire Windrush ship, bringing workers from the West Indies.

Known as the “Windrush generation”, thousands of people came to Britain at the invitation of the government between 1948 and the early 1970s to fill shortages of key workers following the Second World War.

At last week’s event, held at the Churchill Room in the House of Commons, a new network – Windrush 100 – and the website windrush100.org were unveiled.

Guests from across London, Edinburgh, Swansea, Birmingham, Darlington and Bristol attended the event. They included several Windrush elders who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as community organisers who had played an important part in making the 75th anniversary commemoration a success.

Sunder Katwala, director of the thinktank British Future which coorganised the event, predicted that the UK would become more diverse when the 100th year of the Windrush arrival would be marked.

“This anniversary year has brought new reach and recognition to the Windrush story. By the time we mark the centenary in 2048, this is going to be a more diverse Britain and every institution needs to have the confidence to engage with that,” Katwala said. “Now the challenge is for everyone to play their part in creating the fair and inclusive Britain we can all share.”

Patrick Vernon OBE, convenor of the Windrush 100, said: “We want every child to have the chance to learn about Windrush in school, and for the stories of the Windrush generation to be captured for posterity. We need to keep up the brilliant work to mark Windrush Day each year to raise public awareness. And we need to secure a legacy of change on race and equality for the generations to come.”

Imran Khan, diversity equity and inclusion (DEI) projects lead at Phoenix Group, said the 75th anniversary helped raise awareness and “we now need to build on that success for the future”.

“It’s important we all recognise the contribution of the Windrush generation and their part in our shared British history,” he said.

Mostly from Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago, members of the Windrush generation had indefinite leave to remain, but many who did not apply for passports later found themselves targeted by immigration laws intended to create a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants. Many lost jobs, homes, health care, pensions and benefits since they could not produce paperwork, while others were taken into custody or forced to return to the Caribbean.

Many of those affected are still waiting for the promised compensation.

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