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Memorial to Windrush generation as mayor announces legal advice funding

Sadiq Khan said the way the Windrush generation and their families have been treated by government is a ‘national scandal’.

Theresa May said the monument will be seen by ‘millions of people from all around the world’ every year (PA)
Theresa May said the monument will be seen by ‘millions of people from all around the world’ every year (PA)

The Government’s treatment of the Windrush generation has been branded “disgraceful” as the Prime Minister announced plans to create a memorial.

Up to £1 million in funding has been earmarked by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government for the permanent monument at London’s Waterloo Station.

Meanwhile, mayor of London Sadiq Khan hailed the “enormous contribution” made by the Windrush generation as he announced funding to help Londoners access legal support to secure their immigration status.

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Waterloo train station in London (Philip Toscano/PA)

Mr Khan said the way the Windrush generation and their families have been treated by Government is a “national scandal” as he pledged to invest up to £370,000 to support the immigration advice sector in London.

Both the memorial and the mayor’s funding were announced on Saturday, as the first Windrush Day is observed to mark 71 years since the arrival of the first “pioneers”.

Situated at the country’s busiest railway station, Theresa May said the memorial will be seen by “millions of people from all around the world” every year.

Mr Khan said: “The Windrush generation have made an enormous contribution to our country and to the success of our great city, influencing almost every aspect of our culture and modern life. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude.

“But the disgraceful way the Windrush generation and their families have been treated by the Government is a national scandal.

“Their experiences clearly demonstrate that the immigration process is difficult to navigate and the increasing severity of the hostile environment is putting Londoners with the right to be here at risk of destitution.”

Karen Doyle, national organiser of Windrush pressure group Movement for Justice, said: “Memorialising the arrival and contribution of the Windrush Generation is important and welcome.

“However a gesture in bronze and steel feels empty and meaningless from a government that championed the hostile environment bringing destitution, detention, deportation, exile and death to this important generation.

“It is particularly galling when there are still so many who live in fear of detention and deportation, the descendants and family members who are currently excluded from help by this Government.”

Ms Doyle added: “Ripping up the Hostile Environment polices would be a fitting monument. Most monuments memorialise issues and people that are long dead – the injustice faced by this generation and their families is still very much alive.”

Mrs May said: “The Windrush generation helped lay the foundations for the country we know today, which is richer and stronger as a result of their hard work and dedication to the UK.

“This monument will be a lasting legacy to the tremendous contribution the Windrush generation and their children have made to our great country.”

June 22 was the day when around 500 migrants from the Caribbean arrived at Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948 aboard the MV Empire Windrush, at the invitation of the British government, to help rebuild the UK in the aftermath of the Second World War.

But in recent years, ministers and the Home Office have come under fire over revelations on how members of the Windrush generation and their children have been wrongly detained and deported – and others denied access to healthcare, work, housing benefits and pensions.

In the wake of the scandal, the Prime Minister established the Windrush Commemoration Committee to consider how best to create a permanent, fitting tribute to the Windrush generation and their descendants.

The committee’s chairwoman, Baroness Floella Benjamin, said: “Having a Windrush monument located at Waterloo Station where thousands of Windrush pioneers – including children like myself – first arrived in London, will be a symbolic link to our past as we celebrate our future.

The committee will work with designers over the coming months on a scheme for the memorial.

PA

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