Bishop Paul McAleenan, the bishop for migrants and refugees of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales, has encouraged the Catholic community in the UK to unite in prayer and reflection for Windrush Day. In his statement, Bishop McAleenan highlighted the value to society of the Windrush generation and of all of the migrant and ethnic minority communities living in the country.
Bishop McAleenan said, “The story of the Windrush generation is one of people coming to the UK, settling and building their lives here and making an enormous contribution to society; yet all too often these same people were failed by the State, as the scandal of the detention and deportation of innocent people made tragically clear. Many of those harmed still await redress from government.
“Racial justice depends upon many things, including learning from our history. This Windrush Day we should unite in prayer and reflection, with a shared commitment to properly recognise the profound importance and value of the UK’s migrant and ethnic minority communities, never allowing their human dignity to be violated.”
Windrush Day in the UK falls on 22 June, and marks the anniversary in 1948 when passengers from Jamaica, Bermuda, Trinidad, Mexico and British Guiana disembarked from the passenger ship ‘Empire Windrush’ at Tilbury Docks, Essex. According to a BBC analysis of the ship’s records in the British National Archives, it was carrying 1,027 passengers many of whom crossed the Atlantic to avail of job opportunities amid the UK’s post-war labour shortage. In 2018 the British government apologised for having issued deportation threats to the children of Commonwealth citizens who, despite living and working in the UK for decades, were informed that they were living there illegally because of a lack of official paperwork.