Waterloo Station is to be the site of an official Windrush monument, prime minister Theresa May announced today (22 June).
The Windrush Commemoration Committee chaired by Baroness Floella Benjamin will now work with designers on the next steps. Up to £1 million of government funding is available for the project.
The Empire Windrush arrived in London on 22 June 1948. The decision to make 22 June an official day of recognition, with government-funded activities, followed a long campaign kicked off by activist Patrick Vernon.
But it also came at a time last year when the government was in serious political trouble over its “hostile environment” policy designed to deter immigration and to force existing immigrants out of the UK.
It was originated by Theresa May when she was home secretary and carried on by her successor Amber Rudd, who was forced to resign when its effects on many children of the “Windrush Generation” were revealed.
Although parents had lived in Britain legally, many of their children were persecuted for not having the correct documentation.
The government has, so far, made formal apologies to 67 victims of the policy, many of whom were sacked from their jobs, evicted from their homes and threatened with deportation. It is possible that as many as 164 people of Caribbean heritage were actually deported.
More than 6,400 people have now had their UK residence status confirmed by the government.
A compensation scheme was opened in April, so the vast majority of victims are still waiting for recompense on the government’s first official Windrush day.
Announcing the Waterloo decision, the prime minister 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.”
Baroness Benjamin said her committee is “determined to build a monument of great beauty and emotional impact which will lift the hearts of those who visit when it’s unveiled. I hope it will inspire pride and a sense of belonging to all those associated with the Windrush story.”
Starting in 2019, the government will make available £500,000 each year for Windrush day celebrations, commemorations and educational events.