A former Hackney councillor, social commentator and political activist has relaunched a petition asking the Prime Minister to recognise June 22 as national Windrush Day.
Patrick Vernon is calling on Theresa May to recognise the date to commemorate and celebrate migration and migrant communities in Britain.
The Empire Windrush docked for the first time at Tilbury on June 22, 1948, which is why Vernon thinks that day would be suitable for this kind of commemoration.
Vernon told Eastlondonlines: “Many aspects of British society today would be unrecognisable without the contributions which immigration and integration have made to our society over the generations.”
The government’s treatment of the Windrush generation – who came to Britain from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971 to address labour shortages – has been under scrutiny, as stories have emerged of people from this generation receiving letters of deportation and facing challenges with proof of their eligibility to stay in the UK.
Despite being considered British citizens, many didn’t receive formal papers. New laws implemented with the Immigration Act 2014 have resulted in uncertainty for the Windrush generation’s future in the UK.
Vernon’s parents are part of the Windrush generation. His parents came to the UK in the late 1950s, which makes this issue personal for Vernon.
This petition is the second petition Vernon has launched for Windrush Day. The content and signatories from the first petition were used in a letter in The Times on June 22, 2013. An Early Day Motion was launched by a group of MPs as a result of the petition.
Vernon has launched a fund on GoFundMe called Dexter Bristol Justice. A member of the Windrush generation, Bristol arrived in Britain in 1968 as an eight-year-old from Grenada, when his mother was working for the NHS.
Bristol died on March 29 this year in London. Prior to his death, he had been struggling to confirm his status in the UK as a result of the Windrush scandal. The donations made to the fund will go towards costs of Bristol’s funeral.
Vernon has also set up Windrush Justice Fund on GoFundMe. The goal is to collect £20,000, which will be distributed amongst people of the Windrush generation who are in need of legal or financial help. The site was set up on May 14 and has gathered over £8,000 in donations so far.
Vernon told Eastlondonlines: “I have raised about £15,000 in three weeks from both funds including a donation of £5,000 from members of 38 degrees.
“In addition, I have launched a storytelling board game to coincide with Windrush 70. Twenty per cent of the proceeds will go towards the Windrush Justice Fund.”
Vernon has been vocal about issues concerning migration and the Windrush generation for years. He has also campaigned in support of migrants and their rights as well as the Windrush generation.
Vernon told Eastlondonlines: “The Windrush generation were invited as British subjects to help rebuild the country as part of the reconstruction and aftermath of World War II.
“Seventy years on, the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush has come to symbolise a generation of Caribbean migrants, but the wider post-war migration from different parts of the former British Empire to the United Kingdom, Wolverhampton like many cities up and down the country, have benefited from migration.”
For more information on Windrush Day visit their website.
For more information on the petition visit this site.