Enfield commemorates the Windrush story

A statement from Enfield Council’s cabinet member for Community Safety and Social Cohesion, Councillor Nneka Keazor.

“It is an honour for me to express some thoughts on the Black-Caribbean British and all Commonwealth presence in the UK today and the journey of these communities from 1948.

“It is important for us all to commemorate the momentous events in recent history when relatively large numbers of Commonwealth citizens predominantly from the Caribbean - and subsequently from over 60 countries - arrived in Britain to help fill the labour shortage following the aftermath of the second world war. Many Commonwealth citizens also fought or otherwise supported the war effort.

“Several of those early arrivals on the MV Empire Windrush settled in Edmonton. It is hard to imagine today the early experiences of those men, women and children when they first got off the Windrush at the Tilbury Docks on 22 June 1948, after crossing the Atlantic to begin a new life here in Britain and the racism many were to encounter soon after arrival.

“Those early arrivals from Jamaica and the Caribbean are known to us today as the Windrush Generation. They represent the first significant migration to Britain from the Caribbean and subsequently from the rest of the Commonwealth, which has led to Great Britain becoming the rich and diverse multicultural nation it is today.

“In 2018 the government declared 22 June as the national day to honour the Windrush generation. With recent events in the USA and here in the UK it is more important than ever to celebrate and reflect on our shared history.

“Windrush Day is also a chance to continue to ensure those who have a right to residency in and citizenship of the country they have called home for years are protected. We must always be mindful of the significant contribution of those migrants to the post-war reconstruction efforts in Britain and the rights afforded to them.

“You may be eligible for the Windrush Scheme if you arrived in the UK from any country before 1989. You may also be eligible if you or a parent is a citizen of one of over 60 Commonwealth countries. If you require assistance, please visit https://www.gov.uk/windrush-prove-your-right-to-be-in-the-uk .

“Here in Enfield we mark Windrush Day through the sharing of the Niburu Media Film 'And Then We Came' which charts the stories of the Windrush Generation settling in Edmonton. You can watch the film here.

“We have also shared some fascinating photographs - courtesy of the Enfield Local Studies & Archive department - from those early days when women of the Commonwealth were employed as NHS Nurses at Chase Farm Hospital. The photos of them receiving their nursing awards are part of our shared history and a great source of insight. You can view a selection here.

“Enfield today is a vibrant multi-cultural community with residents settling here from across the Commonwealth and more recently from other parts of the world. May I end by asking everyone to reflect on the Black British presence in Enfield and in the UK over the last 70-plus years and to acknowledge the challenges they have overcome to bring us to this day.”

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