Published on
24 June 2020

Barnardo’s London Director Lynn Gradwell writes about the importance of celebrating the Windrush generation and our new Oral History Project. 

This week we marked Windrush Day (22 June), an opportunity to celebrate the impact and achievements of the Windrush Generation and their descendants who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the late 1940s onwards.

The annual event was established in 2018 in the wake of the Windrush scandal when people from the Commonwealth were wrongly told they were illegally in the UK.

At a time when as a society we are confronting our historical support for slavery and our present injustices - from entrenched inequality to institutional racism - it is especially important that we recognise the experiences of Black members of the Barnardo’s family.

This is why we have launched the Barnardo’s Oral History Project as a way of capturing and sharing the incredible experiences of post-war African and Caribbean communities.

The first person to share their story on the oral history project is our very own Barnardo’s Vice President Baroness Floella Benjamin of Beckenham.

Baroness Benjamin talks about how she came to Britain from Trinidad as a 10-year-old in 1960 and how many of her childhood experiences in the new culture and unbelievably hostile environment were character building and gave her the tools to become the person she is today.

Her story is incredibly powerful and we are encouraging everyone from the Windrush generation and their descendants, who had or have a connection with Barnardo’s, to share their stories too. The connection may include through their family, or as a supporter, volunteer or staff member.

Barnardo’s will then be showcasing the stories in a virtual exhibition during Black History Month in October (this exhibition may become a physical one if lockdown measures have been lifted by then).

Anyone interested in taking part should visit the Oral History Project site for more information.

Photo of Barnardo's Vice President Baroness Floella Benjamin and children and families from the Windrush era