Dance A Yard: 75 years after Windrush

When choosing a title for a project which marks 75 years after Windrush, we decided on ‘Dance A Yard’. It comes from the saying “You have to dance a yard before you dance abroad”, meaning you have to know what you are doing before you expose others to it. This title is used as motif for the unique contribution African Caribbean culture has made to the UK and the world.

The Dance a Yard project is educating, celebrating and fostering pride for the Windrush generation in Manchester and the UK through oral history film-making; inter-generational workshops with schools; a community celebration dance event; presentations and online resources. The Dance a Yard project builds awareness of historical facts and deepens shared understanding of the Windrush Generation and their descendants in retrospect now, 75 years after Windrush – the name of the ship that brought one of the first groups of West Indian migrants to the UK in 1948. This is done through oral history interviews, documentary film-making and recording the memories and testimonies of the Windrush Generation in Manchester.

Elders interviewed in the film are taking part in screenings in local schools, followed by inter-generational workshops about the contributions made by British Caribbean communities to society in the UK. These workshops are also being filmed. The project is developing national online audio-visual resources which commemorate and educate about Windrush Generation contributions to UK society; promoting racial equality; social inclusion and community cohesion. The Dance a Yard project celebrates the contribution of the Windrush Generation in Manchester 75 years after Windrush, including through a community Dinner and Dance event which involves screening of the film made at the West Indian Sports and Social Club in Manchester.

The celebration includes a memorial for the late Mama Elouise Edwards MBE who passed away in January 2021 and consultation activities to define aims and objectives for the renovation and redevelopment of the Westwood Street centre, the oldest African Caribbean community centre in Manchester right in the heart of Moss Side.

image for 75 years after Windrush, views from Moss Side

See also background to the Windrush scandal at and an article by David Lammy MP at still relevant now, 75 years after Windrush.

Winston Carrington – Winston came to Britain from Barbados in 1958. He talks about the high quality of education he received back in Barbados and how the school system here in Britain failed him. He talks about the battle to settle, confronting racism and discrimination. He talks about the care from his mother and how he seeks strength and encouragement from the elder men of the Moss Side’s Black community. He talks about his success as a film maker but raises concerns about the challenges faced by today’s youth and how leaving the European Union will bring difficult challenges for the Black people of Britain.

Faye Bruce – Faye was born in Chorlton-cum-Hardy of migrant parents from Jamaica and is now a senior manager in the NHS. Faye talks about her early life growing up, how the stereotypical assessment of black children in the school system had a negative impact on her. She talks about her experiences when she first entered the NHS as trainee nurse, the lack of support from both staff and senior management, racism, challenges and about her determination to succeed. Now a senior manager, she is actively working to implement changes in the Health Service and also acting as role model for black women entering the nursing sector. She talks about being a mentor and role model to help inspire and support nurses entering the field particularly from the Black community. Faye is currently the chair of the African and Caribbean Health Network in Manchester and a Senior Lecturer and director at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Councillor Whit Stennett – Whit talks about the negative treatment of the Caribbean War Veterans at the end of World War II and how many of them wanted to stay in Britain but were sent back against their will. He talks about the continued struggles with racism even in today’s Britain and how we must continue the fight for equality and justice and the importance of preserving our culture. He talks about the scandalous way in which the Government has treated the Windrush generation and the impact it has had on the black communities. He raises concerns about the implications of leaving the EU and the impact it might have on black people here and in the Commonwealth countries.

Roshel Waite – Roshel is a law student, she talks about racism and bullying and how somethings have not changed to help black youths to strive and how the Windrush Scandal has affected her, which led her to join the Windrush Crusade in fighting for justice and compensation and how we must take action to force changes in Government.

Anthony Brown – Anthony is a Lawyer, political activist and campaigner, Anthony talked about his experiences of being served a deportation order in the early 1990s and how the community of Moss Side campaigned in his support to have it reversed. He talked about his work as a campaigner advising and supporting people faced with deportation and how in the light of the Windrush scandal he has set up and heads the Windrush Crusade group who are campaigning for justice, compensation and a change in immigration laws. He talked about the barriers faced by young black people and the institutional racism that still exists, how we must organise and challenge the laws that allow the continuation of injustices we face every day.

Mike Shaft – Mike Shaft has been a radio DJ for over 2 decades, a presenter and writer. Mike talks about the racism he faced when arriving from Grenada in 1968 and and how his dream of joining the RAF was quickly squashed, despite passing all the required tests he was still refused entry. He talks about facing the same racism when he tried for a job with Piccadilly Radio in Manchester as a DJ and how he overcame those barriers to become the first Black DJ on Piccadilly Radio, a job he still has today. He talked about his part in tackling racial injustices in society.

Martin Forde QC – Martin was appointed by the Government to oversee the Windrush compensation schemes, he talked about the challenges ahead and the legal process of how to claim compensation, who can claim, guidelines about individual claims and circumstances, the communities coordinated approach, where to seek legal advice before applying.

Tom Nelson – Tom is a Trustee at the West Indian Sports and Social Club in Moss Side. Tom talks about the freedom of growing up in Jamaica and arriving in Manchester in 1962 to find a totally contrasted way of life, racism, lack of opportunities and low achievements for black people. He talks about his own struggles to elevate himself, now a manager with the Manchester Adult Education Service, he talks about his commitment to supporting people of the Windrush generation to have a better future. He talks about the introduction of University fees how it has affected disadvantaged people and how the community must come together to build an economic base to secure the future of young black people. He talks about organising community and national forums to challenge the Government’s Disparity Order, medical insurance to be paid for by the Government to all returnee residents of the Windrush Generation, better funding to support grassroot organisations, education, training and employment.

Dr. Lance Lewis – Lance talks about growing up in the care system and the effect it had on him, the loss of identity, the racism and abuse he endured. He talks about what gave him the inspiration to take on the challenges he faced and succeed. He talks about his accomplishment in combat sports and becoming a master.He talks about his contributions to helping black children to achieving their goals, including his involvement with the series of conferences, Education of the Black Child in Manchester 1992 to 1997.

Hyacinth Naylor – Hyacinth came to Britain from Jamaica at the age of 14 and worked in the NHS and other care services until her recent retirement. Hyacinth explains that she has never returned to the Caribbean since leaving as a young child but when her sister offered her a chance for a holiday to Tobago she jumped at the chance. However on her return she was refused re-entry back to England because she had a Jamaican Passport, she explains of the horror, farce, distress and betrayal and how it has deeply affected her and her family. She talks about her 9 months ordeal before being allowed to return and how we must work together to avoid anything like this happening in the future.

Rose Henry of Jamaican heritage but born in Manchester. Rose talks about her experiences of growing up in Moss Side with her migrant parents from Jamaica, and how having a strong Mother figure has guided and supported her through the many challenges she has faced. She talked about the strong men and women who were mentors and role models in the black community in the 60s/70s and how she was inspired by their courage, hard work and aspirations that has made the community of Moss Side a safer and better place to live and work.

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