Windrush Generations Festival. Photo credit: Gary Manhine

Hackney Council – Windrush Generations Festival

Hackney Council's Windrush Generations Festival shortlisted for Best Arts Project - Community Cohesion in the 2020 Hearts for the Arts Awards.


Throughout 2018, in the wake of the Windrush scandal, Hackney Council led the way in being proactive in the support of its African Caribbean community. 

The aim of the programme was to find new ways of engaging with Windrush communities and involving them in the life of the borough. It also aimed to celebrate, educate and commemorate Windrush history across Hackney, to engage young and old in intergenerational activities around arts, heritage and culture, to break down the social and cultural barriers to arts and culture by designing activities that relate closely to age and cultural heritage and broaden conversations about sports, food, health and economic well-being, and to engage a wide range of partners and share learning that could inform new ways of working across the Council.

The Windrush Generations Festival provided a wide range of arts, cultural and heritage activities, appealing to different age groups. Record numbers of Council staff, politicians, campaigners, celebrities, volunteers and residents became involved unlocking high volunteer hours and maximising value for money. 

From Carnival parades, to arts and photography exhibitions, cricket and domino matches to baking, every event celebrated African-Caribbean culture, with an emphasis on bringing generations together. The Windrush Parade float designed by Hackney Carnival was seen by 100,000 Carnival audiences and even took part in the London New Year’s Day Parade. Elders visited schools to share migration stories and traditions. Council services were involved in the events – from adult social care, and housing, to the Hackney Museum & Archives.

The programme directly engaged 3,000 Windrush elders and their descendants across 25 activities. With more than 70 partner organisations and a media campaign involving the BBC, The Voice, and Jamaican title, the Gleaner, Hackney’s Windrush story reached a much broader audience of around 2 million.

What the judges said:

‘What an incredible programme that involved and engaged thousands of people and has had a tremendous impact on how the council engages with one of its most vulnerable communities, and has a significant legacy. Bravo Hackney!!’

‘The Windrush Generations Festival have done a brilliant job in raising the profile of the event and the positive impact it is making, especially to older generations experiencing loneliness and isolation.’

Photo credit: Gary Manhine