‘We should be proud’: Barking and Dagenham’s place in Windrush generation history celebrated
PUBLISHED: 17:00 01 August 2018
The borough’s place in Windrush generation history has been celebrated in a town hall ceremony.
Barking and Dagenham mayor Cllr Sanchia Alasia joined guests including the Jamaican high commissioner to the UK, Seth George Ramocan, at the event at Barking Town Hall on Thursday.
For Thames ward councillor Josie Channer, speaking on the evening brought back special memories of her late mum Deloris who found a warm welcome here.
When Deloris arrived alone in Britain in 1962 searching for a better life she was greeted by window signs saying “No dogs, no Irish and no Blacks”.
There were plenty of jobs, but not for black people.
“My mum would tell me how she would often feel scared and alone,” Cllr Channer said.
But she was thrown a lifeline finding work in the canteen at Ford’s Dagenham plant.
“We should be proud that so many Windrush generation people depended on our borough,” she said.
“When every other workplace was saying no, it was a company in our borough that opened its doors, and local people that worked alongside them as part of the community.”
Deloris spent 20 years pouring the tea and serving sandwiches before leaving Ford in 1978.
“When my mum used to talk to me about it, I would think it sounded amazing. She looked back on it very fondly,” Cllr Channer said.
On the scandal that saw many British subjects who arrived from the Caribbean before 1973 denied their rights with some wrongly deported by the government, Cllr Channer said: “It was upsetting.
“They were British citizens. My mum had a British passport. To be treated like illegal immigrants was just appalling.”
She added the scandal made people look again at how they migrants were treated.
On the need to mark the Windrush generation in the borough, Cllr Channer said with the first people to arrive ageing it was important to listen and learn from the pioneering example they set.
“The Windrush generation had so much courage, just trying to get on and do well. Everybody can learn from that,” Cllr Channer said.
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