• Watch a video report from ITV News Anglia's Tanya Mercer

Today marks the third Windrush Day, the 72nd anniversary of the SS Empire Windrush arriving in Essex carrying the first post-war migrants from the Caribbean.

There were just over 1,000 passengers on board that first sailing and over a 23-year period, an estimated half a million people made the 8,000 mile journey. They were encouraged to the UK to help rebuild Britain after it was battered by the war.

While few intended to stay for long, many did settle in the UK. They established communities, raised families and contributed hugely to Britain socially, culturally and economically. The Windrush generation and their descendants have had a huge impact on society in the Anglia region alone.

Decades later, many found themselves unable to prove they had the right to work, or in some cases even live, in the country they had called home for 50 years.

Our reporters Matt Hudson and Tanya Mercer have been to speak to people across the region about their stories.

  • Watch a video report from ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson

Albert and Ena Grant arrived in Ipswich from Barbados in the early 1960s. They were answering the call of the British government to come and work in the UK to rebuild the post-war economy.

Albert and Ena arrived in Ipswich from Barbados in the early 1960s Credit: ITV News Anglia

Albert worked at the old engineering factories of Ransomes, Sims & Jeffries and Cranes, as well as doing his national service. Ena worked as a factory cleaner, but it was tough and they could only get low-skilled jobs.

"Even if you had the qualifications it wouldn't matter, because they would not give you the job as a black person. We had to worker harder than everybody else."

Albert Grant

As attitudes slowly changed, Albert was able to worked his way up and went on to serve as a local Councillor and was the first black Mayor of Ipswich. He earned an OBE for his services to the community.

Albert not only became the first black Mayor of Ipswich, but also earned an OBE for his services to the community Credit: ITV News Anglia

Nadine, Pauline and Hyacinth are daughters of the Windrush, of parents who left the West Indies to help rebuild Post-war Britain and hopefully find a better life. However, while their labour was urgently needed, they didn't always feel welcome.

Nadine, Pauline and Hyacinth are daughters of the Windrush Credit: ITV News Anglia

"No, I didn't feel welcome but I suppose when I first got here I didn't know why I didn't feel welcomed but that's just how it was."

Nadine Salmon

"We're all human beings, we all bleed the same and why is this racial tension still going on from in the sixties till now? So I'm just hoping that with all this that's going on that this will be our bigger change and there's got to be change."

Hyacinth Neita

Today, Bedford's Windrush Legacy Group helps the town's Afro-Caribbean community.

Pauline Stepney's father set up the Bedford West Indian Cricket Team to help break down racial barriers.

She is intensely proud of the contribution his generation made to this country.

Pauline Stepney's father set up the Bedford West Indian Cricket Team to help break down racial barriers Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I am very, very, very proud because you have to think of it they came over here with what we called a Grip that had our whole world in it and what we've actually built up which I don'tthink has been approciated has been astronomical and what they've done for us children to allow us to have better lives."

Pauline Stepney

Many of the new arrivals made Luton their home, the most multi-cultural area in our region. However, they faced prejudice. Today, the town is compiling the stories of those first arrivals before they become lost in time.

"What it is going to do is tell our story. So no matter what happens we've already begun to capture the elders stories, what it was like coming here, why they came here because not all of them came for the same reasons and the experience that they've had and the trials and the tribulations that they went through."

Jacqueline Burnett, Luton Windrush Partnership
Capturing the stories of the Windrush generation Credit: ITV News Anglia

While Windrush Day was created as a celebration, it's important to remember that it was established in the wake of the 2018 Windrush scandal when many of those invited to Britain suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of immigration laws that, unbeknown to them, had changed around them.

Two years on from the inaugural Windrush Day, their fight for justice continues.

Two years on, the fight for justice continues Credit: ITV News Anglia

The ongoing scandal over the legal status of Windrush immigrants has left many in our region feeling vulnerable and undervalued.

Many people in Anglia suddenly found their very right to be here under threat.

"Here are people, many people who've been denied health treatment, lost their housing, lost their employment. Their life chances significantly impacted. Yes there is anger but actually a lot of fear still."

Anjona Roy, Race & Equality Council
Reporter Matt Hudson speaks to Samantha Barnes-Garner from Milton Keynes Credit: ITV News Anglia

Samantha Barnes-Garner from Milton Keynes' father was among those caught up in the scandal. Denied re-entry to this country after a trip back to Jamaica it took him eight years to gain admittance. He'd lived here for 51 years.

Samantha's father Clayton looks at his passport Credit: ITV News Anglia

"It's taken a long time for people to celebrate it, honour it and support it. But you know you can't complain about the acknowledgement but sometimes I worry that it's a cover up for other things."

Samantha Barnes-Garner, Milton Keynes

Members of groups like the Ipswich Windrush Committee are now urging for there to be more education surrounding the history of the Windrush generation. Charles Moore's parents came across in the late 1950s, and a couple of years later, when Charles was just 8, he and his siblings joined them.

"We did contribute, we did an awful lot, and I think that should be remembered. Not because you want to be patted on the back all the time, it's just surely it's something that shouldn't be forgotten. It should be on the school curriculum so all black and white kids realise. I think if they got that sorted then the racism side would be more understood."

Charles Moore, Member of the Ipswich Windrush Committee

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