Next week on Saturday 22nd June people from across the country will celebrate the second annual Windrush Day, an opportunity to remember the immense contribution that the Windrush generation and their descendants have made and continue to make to communities across the UK, writes Helen Hayes, Dulwich and West Norwood MP…
On 22nd June 1948 the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks, bringing Commonwealth citizens from the Caribbean at the invitation of the British government, to help rebuild the UK in the aftermath of the Second World War.
They included leading Southwark citizens like Sam King, who had served in the RAF, played a pivotal role in the creation of the Notting Hill Carnival and was the first black Mayor of Southwark in 1983.
Windrush citizens helped to create our National Health Service and keep London Transport running; they worked in construction, set up businesses, and enriched British culture with food and music, and I am proud of that contribution and legacy. So it was utterly shameful to learn last year of the injustice that so many Windrush citizens have suffered at the hands of the Home Office.
Few people, whatever their political views, will have been sad to see Theresa May’s announcement that she is to stand down as Leader of the Conservative Party, after three years as Prime Minister. Amid a legacy which includes the chaos of Brexit, the role that she played in the Windrush Scandal which happened on her watch as Home Secretary in the Lib-Dem Tory coalition government will not be forgotten.
It is a national disgrace that British citizens of the Windrush Generation ended up being deported, refused re-entry to the UK after attending a family wedding or funeral, or having to endure the hardship of being denied their pension. The government has now set up a compensation scheme for Windrush citizens, but it is so complicated and bureaucratic that many are struggling to claim, and the scheme runs the risk of compounding the injustice it was set up to address.
I have called on the government to review the scheme, and provide access to independent legal advice for all Windrush citizens who need it. So next week as we celebrate Windrush Day, my commitment remains – I will not rest until there is justice for the Windrush Generation.