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Festival celebrates Windrush 75th anniversary

Words by Abi Scaife

Image: The Wub

Windrush is the word on everyone’s mind at the moment, as we celebrate its 75th anniversary. 

For those of you not in the know - or maybe you just dozed through history lessons - Windrush is a commemoration of when the HMT Empire Windrush arrived on British soil, bringing 492 passengers from the Caribbean. These passengers and others brought over on similar trips between 1948 and 1971, became known as the Windrush Generation.

These passengers were invited to Britain by the government - their help was requested in rebuilding the country after World War II left huge losses and damage in its wake. The Windrush Generation were told that this was an incredible opportunity - that there would be an incredible life for them to lead in Britain, with money and prosperity and all that they could wish for. Unfortunately, when they arrived, they were sorely let down.

“It's a bit like somebody saying ‘do you want to come over to my house for dinner?’” explains Patricia ‘Blaze’ Wharton, a manager at Chalkhill Community Radio & Podcast studio in Neasden. “You would go over expecting that you would be having some dinner. They were told all kinds of stories - that Britain was the place to be, London was paved with gold and all of that kind of stuff. I don't know how much of that they actually thought was fact, but they came with the mindset that they were given a great opportunity. Consequently, when they arrived they were faced with ill-treatment, [and] they were faced with racism. They were faced with the fact that there was no real accommodation for them.”

Blaze tells the story that was true for so many families of the Windrush Generation - there was so much racism and disrespect and persecution, when there should have been honour and gratitude. 

That’s just one of the reasons why Windrush celebrations are continuing 75 years down the line - not just as a celebration, but a reminder of all that the Windrush Generation experienced, and that apologies and reparations are still needed.

That’s why Blaze, and so many others, are coming together for the Summer Mini-Festival organised by the Youth Digital Network (YDN), in celebration and recognition of Windrush. The Mini-Festival is making its annual return to engage with the youth and communities in Brent, North London, and to mark the Windrush anniversary.

“We do this to to seek permission to say that we still should be compensated - and to say that we actually still are here and even if we have to celebrate for ourselves, that we'll celebrate for ourselves,” Blaze tells Smiley News. “But it's not about a sense of entitlement. It's about the fact that really is how you say thank you and show appreciation for the work and the changes that we feel we've made.”

“So many individuals from the Caribbean rebuilt Britain [in]to what it is today.”

While the Windrush scandal isn’t the most positive, the celebration certainly is. The Summer Mini-Festival will feature music, arts and crafts and a huge, all out celebration of the Windrush Generation. There will even be talks with community elders - those who were part of, or who can remember the Windrush Generation; and a recreation of the Caribbean front room, which was incredibly popular at the time.

The event is organised by SABA, a UK performing arts charity, which will continue its work in finding new talents with an Open Mic section at the event. Entrees will be up for the chance to perform in showcases throughout the year as SABA and YDN Radio celebrates Windrush.

If you want to attend the Mini-Festival for the Windrush celebrations on Saturday, 24th June, 2pm - 8pm, head to The Grange, Neasden Roundabout, Neasden Lane, NW10 1QB. Entry is free before 4pm, then £5 thereafter.

If you’re interested in signing up for the Open Mic, you can do so by visiting the UK Unsigned website.

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Windrush Foundation. This is a registered charity that designs and delivers heritage projects, programmes and initiatives which highlight African and Caribbean peoples’ contributions to the UK. Learn more here.

Race Equality Foundation. A national charity tackling racial equality in public services. Find out more here.

SARI. Stand Against Racism and Inequality is a charity that provides free and confidential support for anyone who is a victim of hate crime across Avon and Somerset. Support them here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Reduced Inequalities.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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