Windrush 75: 'You're aware of the racism - children pelted me with sweets'

Dr Beverley Prevatt Goldstein moved to the UK from Trinidad in 1962 and has been in the North East since 1991. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees/Dr Beverley Prevatt Goldstein

The challenges and racism faced by the Windrush generation should never be forgotten, a woman who relocated to the UK from Trinidad in 1962 has said.

Dr Beverley Prevatt Goldstein told ITV News Tyne Tees that celebrating the 75th anniversary of the docking of HMT Empire Windrush is important.

The ship transported nearly 500 people from the Caribbean to Essex in 1948, the first of thousands encouraged to migrate and help fill labour shortages in the armed forces, industry and NHS.

Dr Prevatt Goldstein moved to the UK in 1962, living initially in London and then Hull, before relocating to the North East in 1991.

Now living in Newcastle, she spoke to ITV News Tyne Tees about her experience.

  • Video report by Kris Jepson

She said: "I think this is a day to look at the positives. You can only appreciate what has been achieved if you know what it has been achieved against. What the struggle has been. What the challenges have been."

Her uncle had served in the RAF during the second world war and settled in the UK two years before the Empire Windrush docked. When she followed the family in 1962, she said it felt an exciting adventure.

She said: "It was exciting. It was only when you came and you thought, what is this? My uncle, when we were in Trinidad people used to say ‘oh, life in London, that’s the life’. When he came here he changed it one time. He said ‘life in the tropics, that was the life’. So it was a shock to the system."

The best times, she said, came when the community came together at her uncle's house.

HMT Empire Windrush transported nearly 500 people from the Caribbean to Essex in 1948. Credit: PA

Reminiscing, she said: "Their home became the meeting place for Trinidadians. They would roll up the carpet and we would have parties there and dances and everybody would be there for Christmas and it was a real hub.

"They would have dances in London for Caribbean people. There would be Africans as well and white people there as well. They very rarely spoke negatively about their experiences."

In 2018, it emerged some of the Windrush generation and their descendants were facing deportation because their right to live here had not been properly recorded by the government.

A 2020 inquiry found it had been "foreseeable and avoidable" and that victims were let down by "systemic operational failings". The government apologised and a compensation scheme was launched, however, so far only around 1,600 claims have been settled.

Many of the Windrush generation faced racism when they settled in the UK. Dr Prevatt Goldstein remembers how she felt when she moved to the North East.

She said: "You’re aware of the racism. I remember in Sunderland main street having children pelt me with sweets. I remember walking in the centre of town, having things thrown at you out of buses and people shouting things at you from cars.

"I think the North East is ok. It’s a fine place to live. There’s lots of good things about it and like the rest of England you can survive the bad."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "We remain absolutely committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush and have paid or offered more than £75m in compensation to the people affected, but we know there is more to do.

"We have made good progress on implementing the vast majority of recommendations from Wendy Williams’ report and are determined to create a Home Office worthy of every community it serves. 

"Through this work, we will make sure that similar injustices can never be repeated."

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