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Norfolk Black History Month joins campaign to help those caught up in Windrush immigration controversy

PUBLISHED: 17:09 17 April 2018 | UPDATED: 17:45 17 April 2018

Danny Keen, left, chairman of Black History Month (BHM) and Abraham Eshetu, founder BHM and director of New Roots, who are writing to Theresa May and Amber Rudd about the Windrush situation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Danny Keen, left, chairman of Black History Month (BHM) and Abraham Eshetu, founder BHM and director of New Roots, who are writing to Theresa May and Amber Rudd about the Windrush situation. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Members of Norfolk Black History Month are joining the campaign to help those caught up in the Windrush immigration controversy.

They are writing to prime minister Theresa May and home secretary Amber Rudd and calling for the situation - which has caused uncertainty for potentially thousands of people who have lived and worked in the UK for decades - to be resolved immediately.

Danny Keen, chairman of Norfolk Black History Month and who has also personally written to Lord Bird about the matter, said: “These people cannot be caught in this bureaucratic quagmire. They have got to be assisted so they can carry on with their lives.”

Those arriving in the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries have been labelled the Windrush generation after the name of one of the ships which brought workers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands to the UK to help with labour shortages.

Despite living and working in the UK for decades, many of the so-called Windrush generation were told they are here illegally and threatened with deportation because of a lack of official paperwork.

At a Downing Street meeting today Theresa May apologised to Caribbean leaders over the Windrush generation controversy and said that the UK government valued the contribution they had made, and that they had a right to stay in the UK. However the apology came amid reports some are still facing deportation.

Mr Keen is originally from Jamaica and he came to the UK aged four in 1952 on his aunt’s British colonial passport.

He became naturalised in 1971 and so has the official paperwork to stay in the country, as do his family members, but he and Norfolk Black History Month are campaigning to support those members of the Windrush generation who do not find themselves in such a fortunate position.

“I thought it was false news when people were telling me people were under threat of deportation. I thought it was impossible for that to happen,” he said.

“It is real people’s lives being badly affected by this bureaucratic travesty and a lot of people are potentially affected.”

Mr Keen added: “We came when we were called, were recruited. Relatives of mine served during the Second World War, after that we were asked to come here to help the country...It’s a terrible payback for a whole community’s lifetime of loyal service to this country.”

He said the Windrush immigration controversy was not just the fault of one government alone but had been allowed to happen over generations, and that while efforts were now being made to rectify the situation, it should never have been allowed to happen at all.

“They [the government] are saying the right words now but it should never have happened in the first place,” he said.

He said the 2018 theme for Norfolk Black History Month was celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Windrush generation first arriving in the UK in 1948 and the great contribution they had made to the country.

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