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Big Issue founder joins Norwich in show of solidarity for Windrush generation

PUBLISHED: 19:32 30 April 2018 | UPDATED: 20:27 30 April 2018

A Windrush protest was held outside City Hall in Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt

A Windrush protest was held outside City Hall in Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt

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The founder of The Big Issue joined people from Norwich in a show of solidarity in support of the Windrush generation.

A Windrush protest was held outside City Hall in Norwich. Picture: Ian BurtA Windrush protest was held outside City Hall in Norwich. Picture: Ian Burt

Some of the so-called Windrush generation have been threatened with deportation, refused access to public services such as healthcare or lost their jobs as a result of “hostile environment” immigration policies.

The government subsequently offered free citizenship to people from all Commonwealth countries who arrived in the UK before 1973, including individuals who have no current documentation.

But the row over Windrush led to the resignation of home secretary Amber Rudd, after she admitted she “inadvertently” misled MPs over government targets for removing illegal migrants.

On the steps of City Hall this evening, an event organised by Stand Up to Racism and Norfolk Black History Month, saw Norwich people rallying in support of the Windrush generation.

Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, speaks at the Windrush solidarity rally in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.Lord John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, speaks at the Windrush solidarity rally in Norwich. Pic: Dan Grimmer.

They were joined by Lord John Bird, founder and editor-in-chief of The Big Issue, who was among those who gave speeches at the rally.

Saying that the “disgusting” Home Office should be shut down, he said: “I have come here out of solidarity. I came from a generation that watched as Jamaicans came into the country and brought prosperity.

“Every job I had until the mid 70s, in factories and at British Leyland, the vast majority of people doing the jobs nobody wanted to do were from the West Indies and God, bless them all.”

Danny Keen, chairman of Black History Month, who arrived in the UK from Jamaica, aged four, on his aunt’s British colonial passport, told the crowd: “If I hadn’t signed a piece of paper in the 1970s, I might not be here now.

“What kind of country becomes hostile to its own citizens? Surely not the England we all know and love?”

Mr Keen said when he first arrived in the UK, he experienced abuse and was told to go back home, but that “it didn’t take long for people to warm up to us,” pointing out “it’s hard to dislike someone when you dance to their music and eat their food.”

But he said: “This has got to be one of the greatest countries in the world, but this debacle has brought all of the bad feelings flooding back. People are suffering who need assistance.”

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