Appeal for Northamptonshire's Windrush generation to share their stories for ground-breaking new book

'To have the whole community involved in a collaborative book - that would be awesome'

Friday, 4th June 2021, 10:19 am
Updated Friday, 4th June 2021, 10:20 am
Norfamton's Shereen Ingram and writer Tre Ventour, who are leading the Windrush book project

The team behind a ground-breaking new book collating stories about the Windrush generation in Northamptonshire are calling for more contributors.

Anyone with connections to those who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1973 are being urged to get in touch with community group Norfamton.

They can either talk to a member of the team or write their own story or poem to be included in the collaborative book, which author Alan Moore is writing the introduction for.

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Two of the elderly people Norfampton has provided with a hamper full of essentials during the coronavirus pandemic, who inspired the Windrush generation book project

Shereen Ingram, from Norfamton, said: "Many people are confused with what the Windrush generation means so it would be nice to clear it up and to have the whole community involved in a collaborative book - that would be awesome.

"That's why we want people from different lives involved so people feel part of it.

Shereen came up with the idea for the book while delivering essentials to people who were shielding during the coronavirus pandemic through Norfampton's Windrush Generation Doorstep Befriending Team.

She wants to highlight how important their contribution to British culture has been as well as the deep-rooted racism they have had to deal with that is still being felt today.

Norfamton's Shereen Ingram delivers hampers to elderly people in Northampton shielding during the coronavirus pandemic

"The people I was going to had such amazing experiences of love, life and discrimination and I just thought, 'this needs to be documented'," she said.

So Shereen got in touch with writer Tré Ventour to help put the stories onto paper and put the book together.

He believes it would be the first of its kind to document the lives of the Windrush generation outside of the big cities and Black British history.

"We are just looking for members of the Windrush generation interested in being interviewed and people who want to write their own stories about the Windrush," he said.

"So if we can get as many different perspectives across the community that would be good - not just Carribean people but Irish, Sri Lankan and others."

Much of Britain's communities can trace their ancestry to the Windrush generation, which takes its name from the HMT Empire Windrush ship, which brought one of the first large groups of Caribbean people to the country in 1948.

Many took up jobs in the newly-formed NHS and other sectors affected by Britain’s post-war labour shortage and were automatically British citizens because of the Commonwealth, according to the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants.

In 2017, it emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens who came to the UK had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights - known as the Windrush scandal.

Norfamton has organised a festival to celebrate the Windrush generation's contribution to British culture in food, art and music, hence the name FAMfest.

Shereen hopes the festival and the book will help to raise awareness of their importance to the UK but she knows that time is running out to hear their stories first-hand.

"Many members of that generation are dying especially with Covid and we didn't get to record their stories," she said.

"So this is quite urgent as they are getting to an age where they are not going to be here. If it's not done now, it will never be done."

Anyone interested in contributing or finding out more should email [email protected] or [email protected]