Newham

Newham Council to celebrate the “Windrush” generation and campaign against government “hostile environment policy”

30 November 2018 in Community neighbourhoods and Council and democracy and Mayor
Newham councillors have given unanimous backing to a motion pledging to fight the government’s “hostile environment policy” which led to the recent Windrush immigration scandal.
At a meeting of the full council, the motion, proposed by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz, stated that: “Newham Council expresses dismay at the ‘hostile environment’ initiated by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary and at the financial and emotional impact this has had on the Windrush generation and their families, including children and grandchildren.”

Introducing her motion Mayor Fiaz said: “This motion sets out how we as members can support the campaign of awareness raising around the Windrush scandal, to ensure that the individuals caught up in in this blunder of Titanic proportions, on the part of the government, are not only supported by a demonstration of our solidarity, but are supported by our actions.

“We very much need to recognise the contribution the Windrush generation have made to this borough and this country.”

In addition to campaigning against the government policy of “hostile environment” the motion set out a commitment that the borough would celebrate the annual Windrush Day on June 22 to recognise and honour those who arrived in this country between 1948 and 1971.

Seconding the motion Deputy Mayor Charlene McLean reminded councillors that 4.9 per cent of Newham’s population is of Afro-Caribbean background, including  many like herself, who are now 2nd, 3rd or even 4th generation descendants from the Windrush pioneers.

She said: “We must remember that they were invited here. They answered the call from the mother land. They left the tropical sun, their families and their children to work in our NHS and on our buses, amongst other things, after the war. The reception they received was far from welcoming when they discovered the streets were not paved with gold and they encountered signs when they tried to find accommodation saying: ‘No Irish, no blacks no dogs.’

Referring to the government “hostile environment policy, which saw many Windrush pioneers refused passports or benefits, thrown out of jobs or even deported, she said:  “I have heard truly heart-breaking stories of how families have been ripped apart by this divisive strategy. There really needs to be an independent public enquiry into this scandal. The government needs to support advice agencies who have helped people who have found themselves in this truly avoidable predicament and all fees for naturalisation should be waived.”

Adding his support to the motion Councillor Terence Paul, cabinet member for finance, spoke of his own grandfather, who brought him up in Newham but who came here from Jamaica to work.

Speaking after the event he said: “My grandfather died last year and earlier this year I had to go through his papers, and there I saw his original passport from 1956 signed by the Governor of Jamaica. In the 1980’s he had a Jamaican passport and, what we now know is that, if he had wanted to visit Jamaica before he died, he probably wouldn’t have been able to come back into the UK, that’s a disgrace. The Windrush generation are a very proud people, let down by a very bad Government.”