Why Windrush Day is Important

Windrush Day is a day to celebrate a generation of pioneers who left the homeland, their families, and their loved ones to come to what they considered the Mother Country.
Believing it was their duty, they came here during the Second World War to assist in the war effort. They then returned with others to help rebuild this country – they were instrumental in building and rebuilding our NHS, transport, and many other industries.

Wedding photo of Deputy Mayor of Lewisham, Brenda Dacres
My parents in their wedding day

They faced great hardships finding homes, getting loans and generally being treated fairly and equally. A few years ago, my mother recounted to me that when she was visiting churches to ask about getting married, a number of them told her ‘we don’t marry your kind here’. Yet, despite these difficulties and challenges, the Windrush Generation and their children persevered. 

They came to this country as British Citizens as they were part of what was then the British Empire – they just happen to not have been born here. But just as they thought that things were getting marginally better, they and their children’s nationality and right to be in this country was challenged. The Government’s Immigration Act 2014 created a ‘hostile environment’ approach to immigration. This meant many of the Windrush Generation were denied their British citizenship and legal rights, and were wrongly detained and threatened with deportation. There are many who were wrongly deported from the UK or denied the right to return from vacation or family bereavements by the Home Office. So was born the Windrush Scandal, not only affecting my parents’ generation, but my generation. It has also affected many people from other parts of the world. This should never have happened and it casts a deep shadow over many in our communities.

Today is a day to celebrate all those of the Windrush Generation, a generation of brave pioneers, as well as those who have immigrated here over the years and have contributed to this country. We really owe the pioneers of the Windrush Generation a debt of gratitude for all that they have done and continue to do for our community and our country. It is also a reminder to stand up to injustices – we should all be looking at legislation and policies from all angles to see who is negatively affected, whether it in governments, our workplaces, or our educational system.

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