The Preston group bringing together Windrush Scandal victims from across the UK

Posted on - 1st November, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Politics, Preston News
windrush flag raising ceremony at preston town hall
Members of Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants UK attended a ceremony in June to raise the Windrush flag at Preston Town Hall Pic: Preston City Council

A Preston Windrush group is bringing people together from all over the UK to support each other and further the cause for racial equality.

Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants UK (PWGD UK) holds weekly online conferences for subscribed members and the wider public.

Attendees can ask questions, make links with other groups, and share ideas on topics including Windrush, citizenship and birthrights, and humanitarian issues.

The group began in 2019 after founder Sekeena Muncey learned her daughter’s passport application had been declined.

It transpired that the issue was part of a much wider problem affecting the Windrush generation, a group of around 550,000 Caribbean immigrants who arrived in Britain between 1948 and 1973.

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The Windrush scandal, which broke in April 2018, was caused by changes in the immigration system that meant Caribbean immigrants were being deemed illegal.

Many of these people were wrongly targeted as a result of what was dubbed the government’s “hostile environment” policy. People were denied access to healthcare, lost their jobs, threatened with deportation, and, in some cases, wrongly detained or even deported from the UK.

Old photo of Empire Windrush
The name Windrush refers to the ship Empire Windrush, which docked in Britain on 22 June 1948, bringing migrants from the Caribbean to help fill post-war labour shortages

The scandal continues to affect people across the country, including many in Preston like Sekeena and her daughter.

Since it came to light, Sekeena and Glenda Andrew have run PWGD UK as a way to support the victims of the Windrush Scandal and be a voice for the next generation.

The group describes itself as being “part of a growing network of grassroots support groups across the UK working with prominent figures and officials to defend our right to exist peacefully in the country we call home”.

Glenda, who was part of the recent Windrush National Organisation launch, said: “We meet people every day who have been affected or are threatened, and still in many cases do not realise what the Windrush Scandal is about and how they could also be affected.

“Many children, now adults, whose parents are already deceased, feel they cannot prove their status. People overseas have been unable to return to the UK.

“So the reason we campaign is to tell everyone that what happened to Sekeena and many, many others is wrong and illegal.

“Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants with others are here to help and support anyone affected when they are ready. All we ask is they don’t leave it too long.”

During these Covid-19 times, the PWGD UK weekly online conference has played a key role in maintaining momentum.

At a recent conference, around 30 people from as far afield as Leeds, Lancaster, London and Peterborough gathered to discuss issues affecting Black people today.

As well as individuals including an author, an activist poet and a teacher, there were representatives from groups such as Preston Liberal Democrats, Black Lives Matter West London, Global Afrikan Congress, Taking The Initiative Party, and RMT Black Solidarity Committee.

The conference began with a presentation on Black Navigational Inventions from ancient days to today. Group member Calynda shared ancient stories of Israelites travelling to west Africa using navigation techniques based on the stars, sun and moon, and told of how the Moors introduced new scientific devices such as the compass to Europe.

Calynda also shared how, in more recent history, political activist Harriet Tubman used the North Star to help slaves escape from the south of America. Being able to read the night sky helped these people to survive, and references to constellations can be found in old slavery songs including Follow the Drinking Gourd.

Calynda ended the presentation with a video of American mathematician Dr. Gladys West, who during the 1970s and 1980s used complex algorithms to program an IBM computer to model the shape of the earth. Her data became the basis for GPS. 

The book They Came Before Columbus by Ivan Van Sertima was recommended for anyone wanting to find out about the presence and legacy of Africans in ancient America.

Glenda and Sekeena pictured left with the new flag for Windrush Pic: PWGD UK
Glenda and Sekeena, pictured left, with the new flag for Windrush Pic: PWGD UK

In the discussion that followed, names of Black people who have excelled throughout history were shared.

Among others, the group discussed Dr West and another Black woman, Marie Van Brittan Brown, who was the inventor of the home security system in 1966, the predecessor to today’s CCTV systems.

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The group talked about the need to teach a fuller version of Black history in schools.

TV presenter Alison Hammond was referenced for her recent show Alison Hammond: Back to School, where she contended that the drive to know more about Black history is not about rewriting the past, but about incorporating elements of history that have previously been undocumented or distorted.

Resources were shared, including the National Association Of Black Supplementary Schools, The Black Curriculum, and educational materials from Letterbox Library and Twinkl.

The group agreed that if more of Black history and achievements were taught in schools, increasing numbers of Black children would be able to fulfil their aspirations and be proud.

Read more: Black History Month: What it is, what’s on, and what it means to one Preston woman

To find out more about Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants UK, visit the website or Facebook page.

To join one of the weekly conferences, which are held via Zoom, email to request an invitation.

Read moreSee the latest Preston news and headlines

Will you be joining a PWGD online conference? Let us know in the comments.

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