LONDON, England – National Windrush Day was observed here on June 22 for the second consecutive year.
The event commemorates the day in 1948 when the Empire Windrush ship first arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex, southeast England, carrying the Caribbean migrants to help fill jobs in Britain. The day pays tribute to the contribution of Britons of Caribbean origin who were later detained or deported as illegal immigrants.
“Today offers an opportunity to express the debt of gratitude we owe to that first Windrush generation,” said Prince Charles.
“… I dearly hope that we can continue to listen to each other’s stories and to learn from one another. The diversity of our society is its greatest strength and gives us so much to celebrate.”
The British government has said it is determined to “right the wrongs” of its treatment of those migrants and that Interior Minister Priti Patel and Bishop Derek Webley will chair a cross-government working group to address the scandal.
In honor of Windrush Day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly met the bishop and representatives of the British Caribbean community. The newly-launched working group is aiming to bring together stakeholders and community leaders with government officials to address the challenges faced by the Windrush generation and their descendants.
However, Wendy Williams, author of a report into the Windrush scandal, is warning there is a “grave risk” of similar failures happening again if the government does not implement its recommendations.
An estimated 500,000 people now living in the United Kingdom, who arrived between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries, have been called the Windrush generation. They were granted indefinite leave to remain in 1971, but thousands were children traveling on their parents’ passports, without their own documents.
Changes to immigration law in 2012 meant those without documents were asked for evidence to continue working, access services or even to remain in the U.K.
A report concluded the Home Office had shown “ignorance and thoughtlessness” on the issue of race when some people were incorrectly told they did not have the right to be in Britain.