LONDON, England — Social commentator and Windrush campaigner Patrick Vernon, who has been at the forefront of several high-profile campaigns on cultural heritage and social justice in the United Kingdom, is predicting a massive Windrush 75th year anniversary celebration across Britain this year.
Vernon, who was speaking on ITV News in London last week, stated that 75 years is a significant part of British history and the celebration seeks to recognise the contributions of the Windrush generation during the post-Second World War period. He said such a legacy to Britain involved several generations.
He emphasised, “…especially in a place like London, look at the NHS [National Health Service], transport, all aspects of public life, our culture, we [Windrush generation] have shaped Britian. So it is fit and proper that we acknowledge the contributions and history particularly for young people”.
Among the events being planned are street parties in Boroughs across London, other national events will include the Royal Mint producing commerative coins, the Royal Mail issuing a set of special stamps in June to mark the anniversary, The Foundation will recognise the contribution in terms of world conflicts along with businesses and other sectors organising various celebrations. “The significance of the commeration is to say thank you to those men and women who came as young people and have contributed to Britain …it is to say thank you for your contributions in creating Britain as it is today,” he continued.
In a press release from the Windrush Foundation, the architect of the celebration, campaigners say that the anniversary is a key moment in Britain’s history of migration and is a “Diamond Jubilee for modern, diverse Britain”.
It was highlighted in the press release, “…. voices from across the UK – from sports and culture, faith and business are speaking out today about why Windrush 75 matters and what they will be doing to mark the anniversary year”.
In the meantime, it was reported that a new polling for the Windrush 75 Network here in the UK has found that 60 per cent of people agree that Britain owes a great deal to the Windrush generation, while others want such history to be taught in British schools.
Among a host of dignitaries said to be supporting the anniversary plans are actor Lenny Henry, politician David Lammy, historian David Olusoga, and bishop of dover, Jamaican-born Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin.
The story of the Windrush generation began with the arrival of the ship HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury docks in Essex, bringing 500 passengers from the Caribbean, many of whom were Jamaicans. That moment symbolises the post-war Commonwealth migration to Britain and a shift towards the multi-ethnic society of Britain to present day. June 22 this year will mark the 75th anniversary at the port of Tilbury – a focal point to mark Windrush Day.
Despite being invited to help in the rebuilding of Britain after the war, many who settled in London found life difficult as they faced racism and prejudice. It was only in 2017 that, despite bringing Commonwealth citizens who were free to live and work permanently in the UK, many from the Windrush generation were wrongly detained, deported, and denied legal rights.
The British Government later acknowledged the rights of the migrants, following what is dubbed the Windrush Scandal, and launched a compensation scheme on April 3, 2019. The scheme allowed for those affected to get documentation they needed to prove their right to be in the UK, free of charge.
A £500,000 Windrush Community Fund was also launched in December 2000 to support community and grass roots organisations to run outreach and promotional activities aimed at raising awareness of the Windrush Scheme (documentation) and the Windrush Compensation scheme, which many were frustrated by because of the scheme’s slow progress.