June 2019 marks the first ever national Windrush Day, aimed to help remember those who arrived in the UK on HMS Windrush on 22 June 1948. As Lib Dems, we called on the government to recognise 22 June as National Windrush Day in 2018 and Lib Dem Peer, Floella Benjamin has been leading the charge to have a memorial installed in London Waterloo station. She has also released a podcast, From the Heart, to share her own experiences arriving as one of the Windrush generation and her subsequent life in Britain.
A day honouring the Windrush arrivals is vital to counter the negative and devastating effects of the Conservative ‘hostile environment’ and the systematic victimisation of a whole generation, as seen in the Windrush scandal. Windrush citizens like Floella have lived here for decades, working, raising families and making a positive contribution to British society. Their generation answered the call to help address the UK’s post-WW2 labour shortage, yet many in the UK know nothing of that legacy.
As Vince Cable explained to Black History Month: “Our National Health Service is undeniably our greatest national treasure, yet its establishment and development would not have been possible without the Windrush Generation. The arrival of Caribbean migrants at the point of our greatest need, not only built our public services but supplied much needed labour in sectors such as construction and agriculture. Yet, despite coming here by invitation, many were sadly victims of racism and discrimination and as the years have rolled by their contributions to British history have often been side-lined and overlooked.”
We hope that official recognition of a National Windrush Day will send out a message that diverse communities are to be celebrated for their enrichment of British culture and society.