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Windrush 100 Network Launch Reception

Event type: Reception
Date: 07/12/2023
Location: Churchill Room, House of Commons
Windrush 100 Network Launch Reception

More than 100 race and equality campaigners, community organisations, faith leaders, NGOs and politicians all assembled at an event in Parliament on Thursday 7 December to celebrate the success of efforts to mark the 75th anniversary of the Windrush this year.

But they were also gathered to look to the future, as the event launched the new Windrush 100 network, which aims to bring organisations together to commemorate the Windrush, deepen our public conversation about race in Britain and press for future change. The event also saw the launch of a new website for the campaign, and a call for interested organisations and individuals to join the network and play their part in marking Windrush Day in the future.

The new organisation looks to build on this year’s success of the Windrush 75 network, which was recently awarded ‘Community Project of the Year’ at the European Diversity Awards.

The special event, in the Churchill Room of the House of Commons, attracted guests from across the UK, including Edinburgh, Swansea, Birmingham, Darlington and Bristol. They included many Windrush elders who arrived in Britain from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 60s, as well as community organisers who had played an essential role in making the 75th anniversary commemoration a success.

Patrick Vernon OBE, Convenor of the Windrush 100 network, said:

“The Windrush 100 network will bring people together to carry the Windrush torch into the future. We want every child to have the chance to learn about Windrush in school, and for the stories of the Windrush generation to be captured for posterity. We need to keep up the brilliant work to mark Windrush Day each year to raise public awareness. And we need to secure a legacy of change on race and equality for the generations to come.”

Sunder Katwala, Director of the thinktank British Future which co-organised the event, said:

“This anniversary year has brought new reach and recognition to the Windrush story. By the time we mark the centenary in 2048 this is going to be a more diverse Britain and every institution needs to have the confidence to engage with that. Now the challenge is for everyone to play their part in creating the fair and inclusive Britain we can all share.”

Dawn Butler MP was clear about the challenges that remain to combat racism and inequality in Britain. “By the time we mark Windrush 100 in 2048, the world had better be different,” she said.

Imran Khan, DEI Project Lead for Race & Ethnicity Inclusion at Phoenix Group, who sponsored the event, said:

“It’s vital to recognise the contribution of the Windrush generation and their part in our shared British history. The 75th anniversary helped raise awareness of Windrush and we now need to build on that success for the future. That’s why the Phoenix Group is so proud to support this event and the work of the Windrush 100 network.”

The audience also heard from Ade Rawcliffe, Group Director of Diversity and Inclusion at ITV. She spoke proudly of the channel’s Pride of Britain special awards this year dedicated to the Windrush generation – but challenged broadcasters to ensure that people of colour are writing and making what we watch on TV as well as appearing on-screen.

Also speaking was former No10 advisor Samuel Kasumu, who spoke of the need to find constructive common ground in our sometimes-polarised debates about race.

The arrival of the ship HMT Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in 1948, bringing more than 800 passengers from the Caribbean, is often seen as the symbolic origins moment of post-war Commonwealth migration to the UK. It is a moment that shaped modern Britain, helping to explain why our multi-ethnic society looks as it does today. You can find out more about the Windrush 100 network here – we encourage every organisation and institution to step up, join the network and play their part.

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