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Around 524,000 UK residents arrived between 1948 and 1971 from Commonwealth countries. The term ‘Windrush generation’ applies to them.
‘Windrush’ refers to the ship MV Empire Windrush. This ship brought 492 passengers from the Caribbean to the UK on 22 June 1948.
The Government invited the Windrush generation to this country. This was to help rebuild the UK after the Second World War and to address labour shortages.
The Windrush pioneers have contributed to every part of British society. They have transformed UK sport, arts and culture.
The 1971 Immigration Act restricted immigration from Commonwealth countries. Commonwealth citizens living in the UK before 1973 were allowed to stay indefinitely.
The 1971 Act gave those from Commonwealth countries already in the UK an indefinite leave to remain. But thousands of children had travelled to the UK on their parents’ passports, without their own documents.
From 2012, the Government changed its immigration policy. Some people who had lived in the UK for decades had to have immigration checks.
For those without documents, it was difficult to prove their lawful status.
Many could not get benefits, healthcare and social housing. Some lost their jobs, were wrongly detained or even deported.