Marking Windrush Day

Discover the history behind this day and how you can get involved with your friends, family and units

21 June 2023

Today marks 75 years since the Empire Windrush ship docked at Tilbury, bringing the first of the Windrush generation to the UK.

Who are the Windrush generation?

On 22 June 1948, Her Majesty’s troopship the Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks, having sailed from Kingston, Jamaica.

The ship carried over a thousand passengers, hundreds of whom came from the Caribbean. After the second world war, Britain needed help to rebuild and these passengers, along with migrants from other parts of the Commonwealth, played a huge role.

They did important jobs like making steel, coal, iron and food. They also worked in public transportation and helped build the NHS. Many had also served in the British armed forces during the war.

Over time, Caribbean migrants who came to work or join family in the UK between 1948 and 1971 became known as the Windrush generation.

This generation greatly influenced our cultural scene, introducing tasty food, vibrant music, fashion and art. They also fought for fairness and equal rights as they faced racism and discrimination. In 1971, the government had given Commonwealth citizens the permanent right to live and work in the UK.

But in 2018, it emerged that the UK Home Office hadn’t kept any records of those granted permission to stay. It had also destroyed landing cards belonging to Windrush migrants. This meant that those affected couldn’t prove they were in the country legally, and were prevented from accessing healthcare, work and housing. Some of them had been wrongly deported (sent away from the UK).

In 2018, the government apologised to the Windrush generation for their treatment and announced that a national Windrush Day will take place on 22 June every year.

The purpose of Windrush Day is to encourage communities across the country to celebrate the contributions made by the Windrush generation and thank them for rebuilding our country.

How can we celebrate Windrush day?

There are many ways to celebrate Windrush Day, both on the day itself and throughout the year, with your unit. Here are some ideas:

Create colourful Windrush bunting

There were so many Caribbean countries represented on the Empire Windrush ship, from Jamaica to Trinidad. Help your unit learn about each of them by making bunting flags. You can hang these up as vibrant decoration and as a reminder of the diverse heritage of the Windrush generation. 

Check out more Windrush resources from Reading Museum

Cook a recipe from one of the Caribbean countries

Have you ever wondered what delicious foods people from the Caribbean brought with them on Empire Windrush? Choose a delicious recipe from the Caribbean like Jamaican fritters or St Vincent sweet potato pudding. Gather the ingredients, follow the recipe step by step and enjoy a tasty dish.

Rangers can take this activity further by working towards their cooking interest badge – perhaps one of these dishes could end up in their recipe books!

Pack a suitcase

Imagine you are going on a journey just like the people who boarded the Empire Windrush. Close your eyes and think about what you would pack in your suitcase. What special items would you bring? Draw or write about the things that are important to you. 

Check out more Windrush resources from Haringey council

Attend a Windrush Day Event

There are lots of special events happening on and around Windrush Day. Check if there's an event near you or online where you can learn, celebrate, and have fun! These events often include storytelling, music, dancing, and workshops. And you could hear inspiring stories from the Windrush generation and learn about their contributions to the UK.

It's a chance to meet new people, ask questions, and show your appreciation for the rich history and culture they brought with them.

Useful links

If you’d like to learn more about Windrush Day, get started here.

Do you have plans to mark Windrush Day? Or does it mean something extra special to you? Tell us all about it by emailing [email protected].