The Windrush Scandal

The Windrush Scandal

Since it was Windrush Day on Monday, I thought it was fitting to make a post all about the history behind this commemoration as well as the scandal that occurred in the UK involving the Windrush generation – many of which are still alive today.

This post was actually inspired by the company I work for, as they posted a firm-wide article explaining the significance of this day and I found it incredibly informative. Most of the contents of this post will be drawn from that article, along with other resources I have come across online whilst researching this topic.

I will try to cover as much as possible in this blog post, to give you have a good basic understanding of the situation and its importance today. But, I do highly recommend you continue to research the topic as it’s one of the most well-known examples of systemic racism in the UK.


In 1948, after World War II, Britain was just starting to recover from the war but needed some help.

Lots of young Caribbean men served in the British Army, as many Caribbean countries were still under British rule at the time. Thus, the British advertised for those from the Caribbean to come to Britain and help rebuild the country, as there was a shortage of labour at the time.

That same year, many Caribbean men, women and children left their homes to travel thousands of miles across the Atlantic on ‘The Empire Windrush’ ship. The ship arrived in Tilbury, Essex on 22 June 1948.

This was the first time many had travelled at all, as well as their first time in Britain. Although this was an opportunity for a better life, many Caribbean men and women didn’t receive a warm welcome from Britain and many found it difficult to find jobs and homes to live in due to discrimination and racism. Some received threats, some were racially attacked, some were bullied in school, and much more.

Despite being wrongly treated after their arrival, many worked hard to rebuild Britain and contributed to the successes we have today – one being the start of the NHS, founded in 1948.

The national Windrush Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the Empire Windrush and is a celebration of the bravery and hard work of the Windrush generation.

The Windrush Scandal

While the Windrush generation were born as citizens of the British​ Empire, many Commonwealth countries gained independence during the 1960s. Reflecting these changes, immigration laws were changed in the early 1970s and until 1973 people across the Commonwealth were automatically granted right to remain in the UK without need for an application. Fast forward to 2012 and a change to immigration law meant that people were told they needed official documentation to access public services like the NHS.

For many of the Windrush Generation and their descendants, it became difficult to prove they were in the UK legally although they have lived and worked in Britain for many decades – paying taxes and national insurance. Full government records of citizenship weren’t kept, and many people hadn’t applied for official paperwork or a UK passport, as there had been no previous requirement. Many had also arrived as children on their parents’ passports.

This resulted in thousands of people being told incorrectly that they were in Britain illegally. They faced the loss of their homes and jobs. Some were sent to immigration centres and faced deportation. Others were incorrectly deported from the place they’d made their home.

The Windrush scandal was uncovered in 2018, resulting in a formal apology from the UK government for the appalling treatment received by some of the Windrush Generation.

A day, ‘Windrush Day’, was announced in the same year as a way to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions of the Windrush Generation across the UK.

The Windrush scandal highlights the deeprooted systemic racism in the UK and the country’s historical mistreatment of the Black community. To truly move forward, we need to not only recognise the contribution of those from the Windrush Generation but understand the significance of events like the Windrush scandal and the lasting effect this has had on thousands of people who initially helped build the British economy to what it is today.

More Posts


Leave a comment