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Windrush Day – 2020

Earlier this month, I joined in a zoom call to celebrate a resident’s 100th birthday. She came to the UK in 1958 and now in 2020 as we reflect on the legacy of the great people who arrived here from the Caribbean I wonder, has enough changed since then?

This month is the third Windrush Day the UK has celebrated and now, maybe more than ever in this troubling time, we need to celebrate the huge contributions people from the Caribbean have made to our country.

Last year no one could have predicted that large parts of the world would shut down due to a worldwide pandemic. This pandemic has swept across the UK wreaking havoc and upending what we know as “normal”. Although this disease has impacted thousands, people from Black and Asian backgrounds are disproportionately affected and are twice as likely to die from the disease as white people. 

While there are a variety of different reasons for this outcome, we can’t ignore some of the key factors. Now, just like 70 years ago when people from the Caribbean were invited over to the UK to help rebuild it after the war, many of them are working frontline jobs in public transport, the NHS and the service industry. These jobs mean they are more at risk of mixing with large numbers of people and they are also unable to work from home to keep themselves safe. In addition to this, people living in crowded inner city or deprived areas are also more at risk.

Covid-19 has highlighted some of the inequalities that exist in the UK in a very real and difficult way. None of this is news to us, and as a borough, we are committed to working closely with leaders from the black community and young black people to do what we can to reduce this unfair and unequal society.

Black people around the world have not just been fighting Covid-19 this year. Structural racism is also a fight that people from the Windrush generation know all too well.  Many people from the Caribbean came to the UK hoping that they would be welcomed with open arms, only to be faced with racism, discrimination and prejudice at every turn. 

In the past month, we have all been appalled at the video of George Floyd who was killed at the hands of police in the US. George’s death sparked a huge international movement and I, like many others in the borough, joined a socially distanced Black Lives Matter march in my local area. It was encouraging to see people of different ages, races, and religions all marching in support for a society free from police brutality and racial injustice.

Brent is the most diverse borough in the UK and all around us we are reminded of the great contributions of the Windrush generation. We are extremely proud of our diversity and this is one of our strengths.

As we celebrate Windrush Day this year, I would like to thank all those who have been working tirelessly on our frontline services throughout the year and especially during this pandemic. We appreciate you and all the work that you do.

There are a few things we are doing in Brent to celebrate Windrush Day and we would love for you to join us. You can find out more and join in the celebration by following us on social media and checking out the council website.

Cllr Margaret McLennan, Deputy Leader of Brent Council and Lead Member for Equalities