I am proud to represent a constituency with a very direct connection to the arrival of HMT Empire Windrush in 1948. Around 200 of the Windrush passengers found temporary accommodation in the Clapham Common deep shelter, and from there came to find work at the Labour Exchange on Coldharbour Lane and settled in the surrounding area working in our NHS, for London Transport, in the rebuilding of post-war London and setting up shops and businesses helping to build the Brixton we know today. On Windrush Day, 22 June, we celebrate the enduring contribution of this remarkable generation. After 15 months of the coronavirus pandemic, we cannot mark this year’s Windrush Day without remembering the significant role that the Windrush generation played in the founding of our NHS, and the extraordinary service of all those who have come from overseas to serve in our NHS and social care, and who have given so much during this very difficult time. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
Yet, as we mark the contribution of Windrush citizens we must also remember the appalling injustice suffered by the victims of the Windrush Scandal. The Home Secretary has promised to right the wrong of the Scandal, but the Windrush Compensation Scheme is not working. Tragically, 21 victims of the Windrush Scandal have died waiting to receive their compensation.
The Windrush Compensation Scheme must urgently be taken over by an independent body. It is also important that the Windrush Scandal leads to cultural change in our country which must start with listening to the lived experience of Black people, rather than – as the Government has done – denying that structural racism exists. This morning I led a debate in Parliament to mark Windrush Day 2021. You can see a clip of my speech below >>