Mrs Madukah writes: Yesterday many across the country celebrated Windrush Day but what is this day about; why is it celebrated?
Windrush Day was introduced in June 2018 on the 70th anniversary of the Windrush migration. Windrush Day is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom, it is an observed day. It was instituted following a successful campaign led by Patrick Vernon. Windrush Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of MV Empire Windrush at the Port of Tilbury, near London, on 22 June 1948. The arrival of the Empire Windrush 72 years ago marked a significant moment in Britain’s history.
After WWII, Britain invited citizens of commonwealth countries to help rebuild the country as there was a shortage of labour. The Windrush generation made enormous contributions to the country and public services, and through their descendants they continue to enrich our shared social, economic, cultural and religious life; this should be celebrated.
The Windrush generation had the right to settle in the UK under the Nationality Act, but many experienced racism, inequalities and structural prejudice. These prejudices affected where they could live, work and even worship. Legislative changes to the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and the ‘Hostile Environment’ policy caused a further negative impact for the Windrush generation, and then the Windrush scandal in 2018. Some members of the Windrush generation were told they were living in Britain illegally. This was devastating as many of these people had lived and worked in Britain for a long time. The changes in the law meant that they were no longer allowed to have access to healthcare services or even work unless they could prove with official documents.
Unfortunately, those who were unable to provide these documents were sent to immigration detention centres and others were forced to leave Britain. Following a review of almost 12,000 cases, it was found that many people may have been wrongfully detained and deported.
Many years on, inequalities and structural prejudices like those suffered by the Windrush generation still exist. It is important that we all take a stand to help to improve the quality of life of black people in the UK. This starts in schools and the neighbouring community through education on these matters. This education goes hand in hand with the Black Lives Matter movement fighting against racism.