Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

The Windrush Generation: At the forefront of change

In a series of special reports, ITV News Central examines the impact and legacy of the Windrush generation.

"Used, abused - and refused" - the sentiments of many people were invited to Britain to help the country rebuild after the Second World War.

In 1948, thousands of people from small islands in the Caribbean were invited to Britain at the request of the UK government.

The call for help was picked up by many, who then packed their belongings and made their way on ships to a new country, a new way of life and a new home thousands of miles away.

Hundreds of people came to Britain on board the Empire Windrush. Credit: British Pathe

The next decades bought riots and slow change in attitude towards acceptance of the Windrush families. But 70 years since their arrival, they found themselves at the forefront of a political scandal like never before.

A change in immigration laws meant many faced deportation, because they were never formally registered.

The Home Office has since apologised and set up a taskforce to help those affected get the right documentation.

  • Carmen's story: A new life

Among those arriving on UK shores through the years was Carmen Dunwell.

She came from Jamaica as a child. Her family settled in Nottingham, where she still lives.

Carmen says the differences between the two countries was stark.

When we first came, I can remember this white man was sweeping the street and he's got a necktie on.

My father says "Neck tie? Cleaning the street"

The things that we see happen totally totally changed.

– Carmen Dunwell
  • Rosemary's story: Growing concerns

The Windrush scandal has had a profound impact on those who moved to the UK from the Caribbean.

Rosemary Campbell-Stephens has lived in Birmingham, and now divides her time between there and Jamaica.

She was awarded for her 35 years of service to education in December 2016.

She now carries her MBE in her handbag - next to her passport - to make sure she is allowed back into the UK.

I actually put my MBE in my handbag before I put my passport in.

I was concerned that I would arrive at Heathrow, and because I was no longer living in the country, that I would be asked questions about my right to be here.

– Rosemary Campbell-Stephens
  • Catherine's story: Remembering the past
The ''Museumand' project tells the story of the Windrush generation. Credit: ITV News Central

Catherine Ross, who was originally from St Kitts, runs the mobile 'Museumand' project, which celebrates the Caribbean contribution to life in Nottingham and the rest of the UK.

Why I started focussing on the Windrush years was simply because that age group was dying out.

Did they have stories? I wanted to hear their stories.

We rely on artefacts that we've dug up or we rely on books that have been saved. What I wanted were oral histories. They're, what we say in the Caribbean, much sweeter than just seeing the artefact.

We believe in the oral tradition, we like a good chat!

– Catherine Ross, Museumand
'Museumand' highlights the experiences of those who moved to the UK in the postwar years. Credit: ITV News Central

Those who settled in Nottingham had a particular reason to resonate with the city.

The people who came to Nottingham in particular were very pleased that they landed in Nottingham because we had Players, the cigarette place, and back home people were still smoking pipes, and things like that.

People used to send them back home or give them to friends, so long live Nottingham!

– Catherine Ross, Museumand
  • Vanley's story: Photographing change

Keeping a sense of heritage was important for many of the new arrivals.

Photographer and historian Vanley Burke, from Birmingham, has been described as a the godfather of Black British photography.

He has been capturing the city's cultural change on the streets since the 1970s.

I felt it was necessary, history is written by the victors and we've never been in that position.

It was also in response to the negative press at the time - the press was full of racism at the time - print, TV, not much TV at the time but whatever there was had negative coverage on people coming here.

– Vanley Burke, photographer and historian
Vanley Burke is considered the godfather of Black British photography. Credit: ITV News Central

More on this story