Posted on 22 June 2022
Today is Windrush Day which takes place every year to mark the anniversary of the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush on 22 June 1948. To commemorate the day this year, representatives from Hyde’s staff network group, Embrace, visited St. Mauritius House to meet with residents who migrated to the UK in the sixties from the Caribbean islands of Jamaica, Barbados and Dominica to hear their stories of arriving and living in the UK.
Watch the video below and hear what they have to say:
On this day we recognise and thank all those who arrived as part of the Windrush Generation, and their descendants, for the enormous contributions they made to Britain during its recovery from the Second World War and have continued to make ever since. While it is a day to celebrate everything that the Windrush Generation have done for us, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the difficulties many of them faced in setting up home in this country.
The residents spoke of the culture shock when they arrived here 60 years ago, as well as having to deal with the British climate, widespread racism and xenophobia.
Veronica Wilmot came to the UK when she was only 20 years old. Some of her relatives had fought in the Second World War for Britain. She told of the difficulties she faced when looking for housing. Many properties advertised for rent displayed signs which made it clear that black tenants were not welcomed, an experience that was common to several of the other residents.
Resident Malachi Leslie laughed as he recalled mistaking houses in London for factories when he first arrived in London and concluding there must be an abundance of job opportunities. In addition to work, he had a full social life which took him around the country to places like Bristol and Birmingham. “I enjoyed my life” he said as he smiled, “but I think this is my final home”.
Residents told us how much they loved St Mauritius House and how important it is to spend time together socially. “It’s like a big family, everyone gets on”.
“We play dominoes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday – we have a lovely time. I will drink, laugh and talk and talk. I love it here.”