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Windrush: 75 Years Later

(3 min read)

On the 22nd June, Stockport Race Equality Partnership held a celebratory event to mark 75 years since HMT Empire Windrush arrived in Britain.

Windrush Day is a significant moment in the story of Black British people and post-war migration from across the Commonwealth. More than 800 passengers from the Caribbean boarded HMT Windrush on 22 June 1948 to answer Briton's call for help with post-war labour shortages. The Windrush generation has helped to build this country and make it what it is today. However, sadly, many people from the Windrush generation face threats of deportation, income loss, unfulfilled compensation and more. In 2018 it was found that some immigrants who arrived legally in the UK between the late 1940s and early 1970s were facing deportation and being denied access to healthcare, due to paperwork issues. In what became known as the "Windrush Scandal" Government Officials were forced to defend a decision to destroy thousands of landing card slips recording the arrival of Windrush generation immigrants into the UK.

Windrush Day was first marked in June 2018, in the wake of the Windrush Scandal and the 'Lessons Learned Review' which was published by Wendy Williams for the Home Office. Althrough the Lessons Learned Review highlights 30 recommendations for change and improvement, to help those affected by the scandal, theres still in-depth work to be done in understanding race inequality and how we truly address it.

At S-REP we celebrate our Windrush brothers and sisters and advocate for them to receive the justice they deserve.

As part of the celebrations our own Aba Graham was a guest speaker at the Inclusive Employers Windrush event hosted by Cheryl Carty. The event helped us to feel the emotion of those who boarded the Windrush in 1948 and was a reminder of what we need to do to preserve their legacy.

Stockport Race Equality Partnership celebrated Windrush with two real veterans, Alift Harewood and Jannett Creese, sharing heartfelt stories of the past. It was an emotionally charged moment, where they both spoke of difficult times, yet felt blessed for the resilience of the community. We also heard from Mark Mckenzie who set the context of what it was like to be in Britain at that time.

Poems such as ‘You Called, We Came‘ by Professor Laura Serrant, captured, most eloquently, the hurt and pain of the rejection. Yvonne Shelton shared spritual and folk melodies of yesteryears bringing back good memories of life back home in the Caribbean.

It makes us so proud of our Stockport community that we can bring a diverse group of people together for such an open and honest conversation on race equality.

"The reality is that issues of race inequality persists, simply because the murkiness under the iceberg is deeply embedded and not dealt with. The systems that upholds us, still has a long way to go in embracing the goodness of its diversity. We all need to do better intra-culturally we need to value each other and re-ceate safe spaces to build trust and foundations that we can lean on. Externally, the powers that be, needs to be serious about making meaningful change, not scare mongering, but change that brings hope and love for people regardless of where they come from. Notwithstanding, change is in our hands and it starts with us." Aba Graham, Executive Director, S-REP

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