Windrush Day 2020: Virtual celebrations to be hosted by groups across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

Answering calls from the British government to help rebuild the UK economy after World War II, migrants from the Caribbean Commonwealth began arriving on British shores in 1948.

In the wake of the Windrush scandal in 2018, which saw hundreds of Caribbean immigrants wrongly deemed as being in the UK illegally, the government announced an annual Windrush Day to encourage communities to commemorate the Windrush story. It also marked the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the first post-war Caribbean migrants.

The national celebration is backed by a £500,000 grant scheme which was launched by the government in October last year.


This year marks the second annual Windrush Day, but the 2020 celebrations are set to look very different. With social distancing restrictions in place amid the coronavirus outbreak, commemorations are going virtual

Four projects across Yorkshire and the Humber have received a share of over £46,000 in government funding to hold a wide range of events on Windrush Day and throughout the year, to celebrate, commemorate and educate communities about the Windrush generation.

Among those is Alive & Kicking, a Leeds-based theatre company which received £16,000 to produce an interactive and immersive performance to be shown in schools and community centres.

Author Trish Cooke will be leading the online celebrations on Monday 22 June, with new readings from one of her children’s books, which you can watch here.

As coronavirus restrictions ease, the theatre company hopes to take its immersive performance into schools to share the historical experience of West Indians travelling from the Caribbean to Britain.

Alive & Kicking is also creating a docudrama tracing the lives of the Windrush people and their children, which will be available to watch online during Black History Month in October.

Trish Cooke says education about the subject is vital:

“I think it’s really important that children get that education in all the different forms. In the fun forms; in the literature, in the drama. Can be comedy, can be serious. But it’s important that they feel valued.”

– Trish Cooke, Author

Staff from Kriklees Council have been working closely with the West Yorkshire Archive and the Jamaican National Council Huddersfield, to develop an electronic resource pack, highlighting how people can take part in celebrations at home.

Councillor Shabir Pandor explained:

“We can’t go out and do the celebrations and do the events because of social distancing. But we can still do things that show that we are fully behind the commitment that we made in terms of making sure that the Windrush generation isn’t forgotten.”

– Councillor Shabir Pandor, Kirklees Council

The resource pack includes stories about the Windrush generation, links to reading materials and films, as well as ideas for activities people can enjoy, from cooking to playing dominoes and cricket.

Kirklees Council has shared a resource pack online
Kirklees Council has shared a resource pack online Credit: Kirklees Council

Lincolnshire-based Cultural Solutions UK has launched the Windrush Lincoln programme after being awarded £15,700 in government funding.

As part of the programme, a website has been created to mark Windrush Day 2020.

The website explains:

“98.5% of Lincolnshire’s population is white. The Windrush Lincoln programme is the opportunity to engage with, and acknowledge the contribution of Windrush and its children, with the greater Lincolnshire residents”

– Windrush Lincoln programme

The site will provide a platform for work being commissioned for Black History Month in October, including testimonials from the Windrush generation and their children, as well artwork from their grandchildren. Educational worksheets will also be made available in October for schools to download.

As part of the commemorative activities, a tree-planting ceremony was planned for 22 June at the University of Lincoln. It’s now been postponed until later in the year due to social distancing restrictions.

David Lambert from Cultural Solutions UK said:

“Some people in Lincolnshire might ask what’s Windrush got to do with us? The Windrush story is about Britain. In the same way that Lincolnshire feed the country after WWII and should be acknowledged, then the thousands of Caribbeans who travelled halfway around the world to fight for the Allies in both wars, and then become part of the fabric of the country, also deserve to be acknowledged. Many aspects of British society today would be unrecognisable without their contributions.’

– David Lambert, Cultural Solutions UK

Also marking Windrush Day is the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

The Leeds-based charity is holding an online event called Generations Dreaming, featuring a mixture of music and literature which honours the Windrush Generation.

The charity has also created an online learning resource for young people in KS2 and above. The downloadable pack contains interviews with first generation immigrants from the Caribbean and their descendants, as well as sharing other resources such as recipes, music playlists and reading lists.

The resource pack shares classic Caribbean recipes
The resource pack shares classic Caribbean recipes Credit: Geraldine Connor Foundation