Lessons on racism must be learnt from history, says bishop on Windrush Day

The Empire Windrush carried hundreds of immigrants from the Caribbean to Britain.Wikipedia

A senior Catholic leader has called for prayer and reflection over Britain's treatment of migrant and ethnic minority communities.

Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Catholic Church in England and Wales' Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, said it was important that BAME communities are valued. 

The call came on Windrush Day, being observed on Monday to mark 72 years since the arrival of the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in 1948. 

The ship was carrying migrants from the Caribbean to help rebuild Britain after World War Two but those who disembarked and the many more who followed in their wake experienced racism both in churches and wider society.

Some are still awaiting compensation from the Government over a recent scandal that saw the Home Office remove their legal rights, including access to the NHS and housing, with some being deported or barred from re-entry.

"The story of the Windrush Generation is one of people coming to the UK, settling and building their lives here and making an enormous contribution to society; yet all too often these same people were failed by the state, as the scandal of the detention and deportation of innocent people made tragically clear. Many of those harmed still await redress from government," said Bishop McAleenan. 

He said learning lessons from history was an essential part of the process to bring about racial justice.

"Racial justice depends upon many things, including learning from our history," he said.

"This Windrush Day we should unite in prayer and reflection, with a shared commitment to properly recognise the profound importance and value of the UK's migrant and ethnic minority communities, never allowing their human dignity to be violated."