Windrush Day 2020

Today, Monday 22 June, marks the 72nd anniversary of the arrival in the UK of the ship Empire Windrush, which brought hundreds of people from the Caribbean to start new lives in the UK. Known as Windrush Day since 2018, it’s the perfect time to get a better understanding of the experience of people from the Caribbean who were called by the British government to help rebuild the country in 1948, and the terrible injustice that many of them and their families face, even now, with the ongoing Windrush Scandal. 

What is Windrush?

The Empire Windrush is the name of the ship which brought around 500 Commonwealth UK Citizens from the Caribbean to the Tilbury Docks in Essex in 1948.

Why did they come over?

Thousands of buildings had been bombed and houses destroyed in World War Two. As Britain was recovering, it needed help to rebuild the economy. Under British rule, many young men and women from the Caribbean had served the British armed forces. Adverts were placed offering an array of different jobs (in the coal and steel industries, public transport and in the NHS) and inviting them to come over for a better life. In 1948 Many young Caribbeans took up the opportunity and made the long voyage by ship across the Atlantic. Around 550,000 people from the Caribbean arrived in the UK between 1948 – 1971 and are referred to as the ‘Windrush generation’.

What happened when they arrived?

Once in Britain, many of this generation did not get the welcome they had anticipated. They were confronted with racism, discrimination with many of them were unable to find homes or work. Many companies said they didn’t want black people working for them and their children were bullied at school.

What is the Hostile Environment Policy?

The Hostile Environment Policy came into effect in October 2012 by then Prime Minister, Theresa May. Her aim “was to create in Britain a really hostile environment for illegal migration”. The Home Office had destroyed the Landing records which gave the Windrush generation the right to live legally in the UK. Without any documentation they could not work, a number were sacked, they were no longer entitled to NHS treatment and were faced with deportation. One of the most notable cases was Anthony Bryan who had lived in England for 52 years and was wrongfully imprisoned. His story has been turned into the BBC’s feature length film ‘Sitting in Limbo’.

What happened next?

The government faced huge a backlash and protests took place in response to the racist way that UK Commonwealth citizens of colour have been treated. It has now been dubbed the ‘Windrush Scandal’. 

Then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, was forced to resign and was replaced by Sajid Javid. After a review of 11,800 cases in August 2018, he stated that 18 members of the Windrush generation had been wrongfully removed and would get an apology from the government. He also stated that those who had left the UK would get help to return.

Theresa May apologised to Caribbean leaders and reassured them the none from the Windrush generation would be forced to leave the UK.

The government also announced that a day celebrating the contribution of the Windrush generation and their descendants – Windrush Day – would be held annually on 22 June.

For an update on the Windrush Scandal please visit The Guardian’s website here.

Our Response to Report on London’s FE Sector

We have responded to a key new report from the London-based think tank, The Centre For London.

The report, issued today, finds that London is entering the recession brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic with a weakened Further Education system.

  • It is underfunded – spending on adult education, apprenticeships and other work-based learning for over 18s has fallen by 37 per cent since 2009/10
  • There are not enough learners – the proportion of working age Londoners in further education has fallen by 40 per cent since 2014
  • There are not enough new apprentices – London has half as many apprenticeship starts as the rest of the UK
  • It has not responded to employers’ needs – the number of learners and apprentices in areas with persistent skills shortages has not increased in line with employer demand

The report found that, without investment and strategic long-term thinking, the Further Education sector will not be able to support London’s recovery. It makes a number of recommendations to the government:

  • Introduce a support package for the further education sector, bringing funding closer to the higher education offer. This should include boosting teaching grants for subjects relevant to skills shortages
  • Make learning more affordable by offering free tuition for students studying for their first Level 2 or Level 3 qualification and a lifelong learning allowance for higher-level courses, available for adults without a publicly funded degree
  • Devolve the further education budget in full to London government, including funding for apprenticeships and 16-18 learning, to enable strategic oversight of the city’s skills provision and allow City Hall to set priorities that match London’s economic needs

You can read and download the whole 24-page report here.

As London’s largest Further Education college group, with over 28,500 students we know the immense role that FE colleges play in transforming the life chances of students. We feel strongly about this issue and so we have responded to the report. Our Group Chief Executive, Roy O’Shaughnessy, said:

“This report illustrates the effects of well over a decade of neglect and cuts on Further Education, painting a picture of underfunding, falling student and apprentice numbers and a complex thicket of funding rules which blunts both effectiveness and innovation.

“There is so much energy and passion in our sector – I see it every day in the actions of our leaders and teaching staff – and we will need this to dig ourselves out of our current situation.  For example, we in the Capital City College Group are looking at our own resources – our buildings, our course offer and our relationships with local and regional employers – to help secure our longer-term financial future and to ensure that our courses equip Londoners with the skills they need for the jobs they will do in the future.

“With the Government focusing its attention and spending on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we cannot assume all of our funding requirements will be met. It is right that we call for more funding and less complexity, but we must also lead by example and show that we are worthy of additional investment. We owe it to the people of London.”

#BlackLivesMatter – Teach, Learn, Respect

The death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis has shocked and saddened the world. Floyd was arrested for allegedly using counterfeit money to buy a packet of cigarettes. Chauvin then knelt on Floyd’s neck, as a means of detaining him, for 8 minutes and 26 seconds. Floyd was repeatedly heard saying “I can’t breathe.” After 6 minutes he became unresponsive and bystanders were calling on the officers to check his pulse, although all the officers at the incident did nothing.

On 3 June 2020 Mr Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder. The three other officers involved have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

This cruel chain of events caused outrage across the world and has opened up an uncomfortable but necessary dialogue regarding white privilege, police brutality and racial inequality. It has made us as individuals, and society as a whole, look at ourselves and ask some tough questions.

We are a multicultural college and we are proud of the rich and diverse backgrounds of our staff, students and wider community. We stand firm against any actions of hate and racism, which goes against our core values. At Capital City College Group, we believe in the power of education, now is the time for learning and taking action. We can all become part of the change that is needed.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

In the UK, thousands have protested in solidarity, in cities including London, Liverpool, Cardiff, Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester. They have also drawn attention to the fact that: “the UK is not innocent” – due to the UK’s key role in the Atlantic slave trade; as owners of industries built on slavery; the racist nature of the British Empire. They have also highlighting many cases where British black people have died following the actions of authorities, as well as the institutional racism which many feel is still prevalent in many parts of the UK.

George Floyd’s death has affected so many because it did not come as shock. In 2020, that in itself, is shocking.

WHAT IS #BLACKLIVESMATTER?

#BlackLivesMatter is an international human rights movement which was founded in America in 2013 in response to 17 year old Trayvon Martin being shot dead by a man called George Zimmerman, who was later acquitted. Their mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

They have since used a diverse range of tactics, from protesting to online campaigns. They lobby for intergenerational diversity, globalism, empathy and restorative justice. Reactions to the movement have been varied and the phrase “All Lives Matter” has become a counter response. This has been criticised as a fundamental misunderstanding of the #BlackLivesMatter message, which seeks to further compound the problem and highlight the issue.

HOW CAN I MAKE MEANINGFUL CHANGE?

There are many ways in which you can take a stand to make meaningful change. At CCCG, we believe knowledge is power and there are an abundance of resources and information. Below is list of resources which you can read, watch, listen to and take action.

READ

WATCH

LISTEN

Intersectionality Matters with Kimberlé Crenshaw: “When Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality 30 years ago, it was a relatively obscure legal concept. Learn from the Black scholar and activist about what intersectionality looks like in practice and how to continue the fight for justice for Black women.”

Seeing White: “Just what is going on with white people? Police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Acts of domestic terrorism by white supremacists. The renewed embrace of raw, undisguised white-identity politics. Scene on Radio host and producer John Biewen took a deep dive into these questions, along with an array of leading scholars and regular guest Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika, in this 14-part documentary series, released between February and August 2017.”

New York Times’ 1619: “The past is never the past, and we can never forget this country’s foundation of subjugating Black people and people of colour. This podcast is part of an extensive New York Times project offering insight into the four centuries since American slavery began and the legacy that continues to plague Black Americans.”

NPR’s Code Switch: “Racism is omnipresent in American society, and until we name it we can’t address it. Code Switch shines a light on the pervasive nature of racism, from language and workplace culture to social norms. First we identify the problems, then we work to dismantle them.”

DO

  • Petition

Demand a sweeping reform mandating a zero-tolerance approach in penalising and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent, and non-resisting individuals in an arrest. Sign the petition here.

Justice for Belly Mujinga, the railway worker who died from coronavirus after she was spat on by a man claiming to have COVID-19. You can sign the petition and email your MP to ask them to support further investigation into Mujinga’s death. Sign the petition here. Find your local MP’s contact details here.

Justice for Breonna Taylor, the Black emergency medical technician who was fatally shot in her apartment by the Louisville Metro Police Department. Sign the petition here.

Write to your MP to demand the UK government publishes and delivers actionable results relating to the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) COVID report. Find your local MP’s contact details here.

Demand the UK takes a stand against police brutality and racism.
You can use this email template to write to your MP here.

  • Donate

George Floyd Memorial Fund: established to cover funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counselling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings
UK Black Lives Matter: a coalition of Black activists and organisers working across the UK, coordinating activity since 2016 for justice
RIP Belly Mujinga: originally set up for Belly Mujinga’s funeral with further funds going toward supporting her young daughter
National Memorial Family Fund: for the families of victims of police brutality
UK Black Protest Legal Support: a hub of lawyers and legal advisors providing free legal advice and representation to UK Black Lives Matter activists and protesters
The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust: “works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice” as well as working to “influence others to create a fairer society in which everyone, regardless of their background, can flourish”.

  • Talk to each other

If you want to discuss any issues or your thoughts relating to the Black Lives Matter movement, message us on our college’s social media channels and let’s start a discussion to create a positive racial legacy. Staff can call our confidential and anonymous Employee Assistance Programme (LifeWorks on 0800 169 1920) to talk about any issues that they are struggling with.

  • Protest or attend demonstrations

In light of the current pandemic, people are taking the difficult decision to break social distancing regulations in order to protest.  In a joint statement UK Chief Constables said that the right to lawfully protest is a “key part of our democracy” but stressed the importance of keeping within the current Covid-19 guidelines. We’ve seen many peaceful and safe protests taking place around our college sites, including at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham.

 

So, if you choose to protest, please do so peacefully and carefully:

  • Observe social distancing rules. The current guidelines are to mix with individuals from no more than six other households and to stay 2m apart.
  • Wear a face mask and wash your hands as regularly as possible. Be prepared for a lot of facilities being closed and bring hand sanitiser gel.
  • It will be a long day, so go prepared with comfortable clothing, water and snacks.
  • Make sure your phone is charged and has emergency contact numbers stored. Let someone know where you are going who you can regularly check in with to let them know you’re safe.

WHAT WE ARE DOING AND WILL DO

At Capital City College Group, we commit not just to non-racism, but active anti-racism.

We have strong practices around equality, diversity and inclusivity and Schemes of Work for curriculum lessons, tutorials sessions and enrichment calendars reflect equality and diversity themed activities or events. Here is just some of the excellent work taking place around our colleges:

STUDENTS

  • Students’ Unions (SU): our SU work together with external organisations to raise awareness and create opportunities for change. This academic year the SU has focused on youth violence and knife crime. They have been working with Citizens UK on a campaign to raise awareness of young people’s rights around Stop and Search.
  • Black History Month: a display was created which told the story of how the month was established and promoted prominent books such as They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of Black Lives Matter.
  • Abolition of Slavery: we displayed a range of thought provoking photos and information covering some of the key members of the abolitionist movement and the broad socio-economic context of the movement.
  • Curriculum: we strongly embed ED&I within all curriculum. Within GCSE English key themes have been linked through Schemes of Learning and lesson plans. We hold key themed months such as Black History, International Women’s Day and LGBT+ History Month, which has allowed for greater awareness in the student cohort and members of these communities to grow in confidence and be an active member of the student community.

STAFF

  • Recruitment: The Group recognise that monitoring is a key system to assess progress in equality. Active steps are taken to encourage both internal and external BAME applicants and to ensure the recruitment process is fair and robust. The total proportion of staff employed from a BAME background is currently at 30% and we are working to improve thisIt is recognised that within our Senior Management/Group Leadership level of management, there is under representation of staff of BAME heritage, those who have a disability and women. The group continue to look at initiatives that can help improve the diversity profile at this level and across the organisation.
  • Promoting Leadership: we support our BAME staff to join the AOC’s Aspiring BAME Leaders and Governors coaching scheme and the activities provided by the Women’s Leadership Network.
  • Committees: We have dedicated Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committees who provide a forum to raise and promote inclusion and to share best practice.

GOING FORWARD

We do not profess to have it right and there will always be room for improvement, which are committed to doing. A feedback email account will to be created where both staff and students can discuss, feedback and share their thoughts on these issues and suggestions for improvements. These emails will go to the respective committees and our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager for the Group. Based on this information and examples of best practice, we will continue to work towards creating an inclusive learning and working environment.

We would also like to use our platforms to share staff and student experiences – we ask you to email us your stories or use our social media platforms with your stories, supporting learner voice events, focus groups or workshops to record and share experiences. This will support the #WeStandWithYou campaign and give our staff and students a public forum so their voices can be heard and generate conversation.

We are also in discussions about a new Learning Hub which will be a bank of resources for staff to support, empower, and raise awareness of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion issues. Keep an eye on our college websites and social media platforms for more information.