On this day in 1948 the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex, bringing with it a workforce of around 500 Caribbean migrants to settle in the UK.
Following the destruction caused during World War II, Britain was in need of rebuilding. A call was put out to Caribbean countries within the British Empire and hundreds answered the call.
This was the first time so many Caribbean people had come to live in Britain and many more arrived in the following years. The Windrush Generation played a significant role in getting the country back on its feet, with many migrants settling in industrial towns and cities, including Sheffield.
Under normal circumstances activities would have been planned to celebrate Windrush Day 2020 across Sheffield’s BAME communities. However due to COVID-19 plans are being postponed to later in the year, hopefully during Black History Month in October.
Councillor Terry Fox, Deputy Leader at Sheffield City Council said: “Despite the courageous efforts of our nation, Britain was decimated during World War II. Sheffield in particular suffered huge destruction during the Blitz and we needed help to rebuild the city and the country.
“The contribution that the Windrush generation made during a pivotal point in the UK’s history, and the history of our city cannot be underestimated. It was not easy for these people, they faced much discrimination, but they stepped forward and played a huge part in rebuilding our future, a future which they and their ancestors are an integral part of.
“The impact of COVID-19 means we are unable to celebrate their contribution and give thanks in the way we would like to on this significant day. But I would still like to personally thank them, and all those who we have welcomed in to our societies, not only for helping us regenerate our nation but for enriching our lives with cultural diversity.
“We want to pay tribute with the energy and vibrancy that our black communities deserve, and we will do this later in the year during Black History Month celebrations.”
Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills at Sheffield City Council is leading on Sheffield’s Racial Equality Commission. Through this commission the council, citywide partners and local black communities hope to identify and affect change around the nature, extent, causes and impact of race inequality in the City and to make recommendations for tackling them.
Cllr Mohamed added: “Recent developments in the Black Lives Matter Movement have brought racial issues to the forefront across the world, and we are supporting this movement because today black people still face serious racial prejudice in many areas of their lives.
“Systemic racism runs through all societies, but it’s hidden, it’s not obvious to see, and in most cases it’s not intended. From education and employment to opportunity and involvement, we must identify these issues so that we can begin to understand how to bring about true racial equality.
“Everyone has a right to live without fear of being judged; or being treated differently because of the colour of their skin. Throughout history our citizens have campaigned for human rights and equality, and made a difference, and now is not the time for us to sit back and be silent.”
More information will be announced about Sheffield’s Racial Equality Commission in due course.
A range of activities will be planned with community groups and Sheffield’s BAMER Hub later in the year to celebrate Windrush Day and the contribution of black communities across the city. Details will be shared nearer the time.
If you want to get involved in the BAMER Hub contact equalitiesandinvolvement@sheffield,gov.uk.
Or visit the website, https://equalityhubnetwork.org/bamer-hub/
The BAMER Hub is part of the Equality Hub Network and focuses on issues specific to BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic, Refugee) communities. It promotes fairness and inclusion and challenges inequalities.