Have you listened to the new Fun Kids series celebrating the Windrush Generation, The Windrush Story?
The series looks into the courageous immigrants from the Caribbean who came to Britain to help rebuild after the second world war.
Who are the Windrush Generation?
The Windrush Generation are people who came from the Caribbean to Britain over 70 years ago to help the country rebuild after the second world war and who have made a tremendous contribution to the culture around us.
The story of how a generation brought their culture to Britain starts in 1948 – a few years after the end of the second world war.
The war had devastated Britain. Many people – military men and women as well as civilians lost their lives. Cities and towns across the country had been badly damaged by bombing raids and food was in short supply and had to be rationed.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in these times – with many homes, schools and hospitals destroyed in the bombings?
As people tried to get Britain back to normal they realised there weren’t enough people to do all the jobs needed to rebuild our towns and cities, tend to the sick, and drive ambulances, buses and trains. We needed help – and lots of it. The Government made a new law – the 1948 British Nationality Act which gave everyone who lived in the UK or any British colony around the world, the same rights to live, work and raise their families in Britain.
Who came over in the Windrush and what was it like?
People who chose to leave the Caribbean and come to Britain had to say goodbye to their friends and family who were left behind. It must have taken a lot of courage especially as some would never meet again. However, people in the Caribbean thought of Britain as the motherland and were excited to take up the offer.
People came from a number of Caribbean islands – such as Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and St Kitts.
Some British people were racist and unkind. Can you imagine how upsetting it would be to come all the way to help and to be told that you weren’t welcome? It shows you just how brave those people were – to settle and make homes here – and help Britain get back on its feet.
Why are these people known as the Windrush Generation?
One of the very first boats to make the journey was called the MV Empire Windrush. It set sail on its three-week journey in Spring 1948.
On board were 1,027 men, women and children, many of whom had travelled to help rebuild Britain in response to the British Government’s call for workers.
They arrived full of hope – dressed in their best clothes and carrying their few possessions in small bags. Although there was lots of press coverage of their arrival, it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing for the arrivals.
You can learn more about The Windrush in our series below, including what happened after the war and about Caribbean culture such as food.