Floella Benjamin guest edits Windrush edition of the Big Issue

Front cover of The Big Issue magazine marking Windrush Day Credit: Big Issue/PA

Trinidadian-British actress and television presenter Baroness Floella Benjamin is guest editing the latest issue of the Big Issue magazine to mark Windrush Day.

June 22 was the day when around 500 migrants from the Caribbean arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 aboard the MV Empire Windrush, at the invitation of the British government, to help rebuild the UK in the aftermath of the Second World War.

The issue has been marred by recent revelations on how members of the Windrush generation and their children have been wrongly detained and deported and others denied access to healthcare, work, housing benefits and pensions.

Features in the special 56-page edition of the Big Issue on Monday include an insight on the scourge of youth knife crime, from case workers from the St Giles Trust, who work on the frontline to tackle violence among youngsters.

Athlete Linford Christie discusses the racism that blighted his schooldays, athletics rivalry and the drug scandal that destroyed his career.

Sir Lenny Henry writes a plea for an honest media portrayal of the diversity and culture of the UK.

The regular My Pitch feature, where local Big Issue vendors tell their story, is told by Norma Jean Taylor, 62, who sells the magazine at London’s Waterloo station and was born in St Ann’s in Jamaica, coming to the UK aged 10 in 1967.

Baroness Floella Benjamin said: “The mass migration of people from the West Indies changed the face of Britain and it came at a great price for the Caribbean pioneers who made the journey.

“I am very much part of the Windrush generation because I came to Britain as a 10-year-old in 1960 from Trinidad.

“Many of my childhood experiences in that new culture and unbelievably hostile environment gave me the determination and resilience to become the woman I am now.”

Big Issue editor Paul McNamee added: “At The Big Issue we have been outraged by the heartless treatment of members of the Windrush Generation by the UK Government, and the injustice of deportations that have damaged families established in this country for generations and an indelible part of its fabric.

“So we were delighted that Floella agreed to be our very special guest editor to mark this momentous first Windrush Day.

“There are insights that speak to us all, humanity and heart that shines through their tough and often heartbreaking experiences.

“I hope it will encourage communities across the country to celebrate the invaluable contribution of the Windrush Generation and their descendants.”