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What is the day about?

Windrush Day was created to recognise the Windrush Generation’s contributions to the UK and celebrate their accomplishments.

The Windrush Generation is a term used to describe people who arrived to the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1971, to help fill post-war labour shortages. Many in the Windrush Generation had served in the British Armed Forces in World War Two and would fill in many roles such as manual workers, cleaners, drivers, nurses, and campaigners for Black-British rights.

For example, Sam Beaver King served in the RAF during the War and would go on to become a postal worker, cofound Notting Hill Carnival and be the first black mayor of Southwark.

When does the day take place?

Windrush Day takes place annually on 22 June. This day was chosen to celebrate the Windrush generation because the passenger liner and cruise ship, HMT Empire Windrush, was the ship that brought 492 passengers from a number of Caribbean countries to the UK on 22 June.

While not everyone who is a part of the Windrush Generation sailed on the HMT Empire Windrush, it has still been “characterised as the foundation story of mass migration to Britain”, due to the photos and films shown of the Windrush generation arriving dressed in high fashion.

Why is the day celebrated?

Patrick Vernon is a social commentator and historian who campaigned for Windrush Day to be recognised as a day for celebration and awareness since 2010.

In his article “Why Windrush Matters” Patrick shares that despite growing up in a multicultural neighbourhood, his local MP Enoch Powell and the National Front made the area very unsafe for Black, Asian, and ethnic minorities in Wolverhampton. This backlash against multiculturalism and migration clashed with Patrick’s appreciation for art, music, and culture from all sorts of people in his area, so he wanted to raise awareness about the good things migration has brought to the UK. Patrick thought recognising Windrush Day as a national day would be the perfect way to do this.

In 2018, Patrick Vernon’s campaign succeeded and the UK government finally announced that Windrush Day would be recognised as a national awareness day.

From our expert:

Alyson Malach, who is an author of a number of publications and articles on education and equality, shares with us her poem ‘Windrush Story’, which she wrote in 2019.

The poem shares some of her father’s experiences of his first arrival to the UK in 1955:

“My father arrived in England in 1955.
He came to work on an invitation, leaving behind his life.
He left his partner and his children three,
to work hard, share his skills and help prop up the UK economy.
I was a just baby, just three and a half weeks old.
He left me, my brother and sister.
To send for us later, my mother was told.”

See Alyson’s blog to read the whole poem.

Listen below to Alyson provide a background to her story and recite her Windrush poem.

Facts you should know about the day

How to celebrate this day in the workplace

There are numerous ways to commemorate Windrush Day at work, including:

If you need more support organising workplace activities for Windrush Day or would like to review how your workplace policies may impact migrant employees, contact us using the form below and our friendly team will be in touch with you:

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