‘THE WINDRUSH GENERATION AND THE HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT BILL’
By Eulinda Antonette Clarke-Akalanne
Composed on Monday 28th May 2018, updated as necessary.
Let’s look back in history
to find the origins of the Windrush mystery.
Three hundred and seventy-six years ago…
women, children and men of African origin
were captured and enslaved to work in the Caribbean.
These slaves became British West Indian Citizens
who laboured for the British plantocracy in their thousands.
They tilled the earth, fork, spaded and hoed
Harvesting coffee, cocoa, tobacco
and producing sugar which was called ‘White gold’
that enriched Britain’s economy much more than a hundred-fold
financing her commercial and industrial Revolution
while strengthening and expanding her capitalism.
West Indians served in the two great wars
soldering on with patriotism, pride and deep loyalty
to fight and to die for Britain, their Mother Country.
Now, fast forward, 71 years ago, they were called to Britain to serve again
to fill job vacancies created by World War two
which many local people deemed undesirable to do.
With no hesitation the migrants came to serve their king and country
They came to the mother-land that they adored…
a land of hope and bounty.
The ship, ‘Empire Windrush,’ brought the first four hundred and ninety-two…
In the year 1948, Tuesday, June twenty-two.
They filled job vacancies like Public Transport, National Health Service (to which I belonged) and British rail,
despite having their social and cultural lives curtail …
by prejudice, racism, discrimination, hostility and attacks
like the 1958 and 1959 assaults in Notting Hill by white youths on blacks….
And bullied by Teddy boys and barred from private houses and flats
with signs which read ‘No Irish, No dogs, No blacks’
And the 1962 Immigration Act designed to close British doors
Barring further entry to Coloureds to Britain’s shores.
Plus an election campaign slogan of 1964
That read ‘If you want a NIGGER for a neighbour
and Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood prophesy of 1968,
That hasn’t materialised up to today’s date.
The Windrush migrants never questioned their residential state
because they believed their statuses were up to date.
These beliefs were reinforced by the immigration Act 1971
That conferred Indefinite Leave of stay to them, each and everyone
The contributions and jobs these loyal citizens maintained
Helped to build a global and modern Britain
Theresa May’s ‘Hostile Environment Bill of 2013
Aimed to reduce net migration to tens of thousands, this was the dream.
It made life in Britain difficult for[ACA2] those without correct documentation
and caused many Windrush migrants’ hardships beyond expectation
because, some had lost their original passports and/or documentation
And to crown it all, in 2009 by Home Office instruction
their landing cards and records went to destruction.
This resulted in many of them being declared illegal immigrants
despite paying their taxes and National Insurances
Some had their driving licences revoked
Others were sacked from their jobs and left destitute and broke
Some were evicted from home
and left on the streets to rough sleep and roam
Bank accounts were frozen and salaries denied
From these experiences some tragically died
all because of the Hostile Environment Bill
that psychologically maims and sometimes physically kill
Some Windrush migrants were deported
others were denied re-entry to Britain when at the airports they reported.
Some people’s pensions were stopped
And others had health care suspended or completely dropped.
Some families were split and separated
some individuals were incarcerated or repatriated
The traumas of the Hostile Environment Bill are too numerous to mention here
But some include despair, depression, dread and fear
Suffice it to say, some experienced extreme calamity
Deep mental scars and total disharmony.
Thanks to some MP’s the Windrush Scandal has now abated
And by December 2018 more than 3000 Windrush migrants
Had their British Citizenships reinstated
Windrush experiences are not all doom and gloom
There are lots of successful stories with glitter and boom
But I’ll recite these on another occasion
Because it’s time for me to leave this podium
But….. before I take my exit
I ask, ‘What’s happening next?’
Now there is Brexit?
This work is protected by copyright. No part of this work may be copied, stored, transmitted or distributed without my expressed prior written approval.
My name is Eulinda Antonette Clarke-Akalanne. I was born in Barbados but have lived in England since I was 18 years old. I worked in the National Health Service (NHS) for almost 50 years as a General Nurse, Midwifery Sister, Senior[EC1] Psychiatric Charge Nurse, Nurse Prescriber and Senior Health Visitor. I also qualified and worked as a Social Worker. Since retiring I achieved one of my dreams and graduated with BA honors in Anthropology from the University of Bristol. I am a poet, my compositions are related to experiences of myself and others