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/ 3 July 2023

Stoke Newington church honours Windrush generation’s sacrifices with premiere of new film

Celebrating National Windrush Day on Thursday 22 June, parishioners at St Michael and All Angels Church, Stoke Newington, joined together for the premier of a new locally-produced film, Sadness and Sweetness.

Sadness and Sweetness, produced by the church’s artist-in-residence Sheba Montserrat, explores the long-lasting impact on the families who moved to the UK from the Caribbean, and the children who were initially left behind. When many Windrush migrants came to England, they left their children in the care of other family members back at home, with the intention to get accommodation and employment and then invite their children to join them. In the Caribbean, these children would often become attached to other family members and while in England, some of the parents got married and had other children. The documentary offers a nuanced look into the cost of migration on these Windrush families, exploring the issue of abandonment and what it meant to these families to emigrate to the UK.

The premier of the documentary was followed by a panel discussion with the film’s interviewees – Dee Buchanan, Theodore Perkins, Mary Beckles, and Glaister Thompson – hosted by Sheba Montserrat. The event was also attended by The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Joanne Grenfell, Archdeacon of Hackney, Peter Farley-Moore, and an array of local councillors from Hackney Council.


Revd Steve Gayle, Vicar of St Michael and All Angels, said:

“On the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush, we are telling a more sobering side of the stories of those who grew up as the children of Windrush migrants. This year we are exploring these complex family dynamics and giving a voice to these children who are now adults. We are privileged to have four people who have developed the courage to tell their stories in a safe and welcoming space.

“This is an event about trauma, attachment, forgiveness and hope, and I pray that this documentary will bring into focus the lesser-known aspects of the Windrush Generation’s huge sacrifices to make London the wonderful city it is today.”

Sheba Montserrat, artist-in-residence at St Michael and All Angels, commented:

“This documentary serves not just to inform, but to heal. It was a privilege to be entrusted with these stories by these four children of Windrush. Caribbean culture is one of resilience and determination – as the descendants of generations of enslaved Caribbeans we have had no choice but to be. The Windrush Generation in particular has faced difficult times with extraordinary tenacity, and we’re only just beginning to understand and unpack the impact of this on those children who were initially left behind.”

The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Dr Joanne Grenfell, who commented:

“We have so much for which we should thank the Windrush Generation. We must never forget the sacrifices they and their families made to come to the UK in a spirit of friendship and support, and the positive and lasting impact that they have made on our culture and society. We must also never forget the racism that many encountered, and the pain that they suffered. This is a cause for repentance and for the ongoing work of redress today.

“This documentary was incredibly moving, and I’d like to thank the interviewees for sharing their experiences so candidly, and all those involved in producing this documentary which has provided such a special way to mark Windrush 75.”

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