Paulette Wilson: Late Windrush campaigner to be honoured with blue plaque

A life-long resident of the city, Ms Wilson died unexpectedly in July 2020, aged 64.

Nadine White@nadine_writes
Tuesday 22 June 2021 06:55
<p>Paulette Wilson</p>

Paulette Wilson

A blue plaque honouring Windrush campaigner Paulette Wilson will be unveiled in her home city of Wolverhampton on national Windrush Day.

The memorial will be situated at the Wolverhampton Heritage Centre - a cornerstone of the area’s local Caribbean community.

This was also the former constituency office of Enoch Powell - and where the MP wrote his infamous Rivers of Blood speech in 1968 - the same year when Ms Wilson arrived in city as a ten-year-old.

Ms Wilson, who arrived in the UK to join her grandparents as part of the Windrush generation, was one of thousands of people who were illegally stripped of their rights as British citizens despite residing lawfully in the country for decades, in what came to be known as the Windrush scandal.

A life-long resident of the city, she died unexpectedly in July 2020, aged 64.

Funds for the memorial, which will be unveiled by Mayor of Wolverhampton Cllr Greg Brackenridge on Tuesday, came from surplus money donated to a to a crowdfunding effort to remember Ms Wilson.

“I would like to thank each and everyone who donated to the GoFundMe for us as a family to bury mom and to have a blue plaque put up in her name. We are honoured and grateful for the support. It means a lot,” Ms Wilson’s daughter Natalie Barnes said.

“The day mom died I remember saying ‘what am I going to do?’ I didn’t think I would have lost my mom at such a young age it still is a shock that she is not here. She is missed every second of every day by everyone, as much as it hurts.

“Mom just wanted to help others and get justice. I will not allow my mom’s name to go in vain. I shall continue the fight until the lessons learned are put right so again me and my family are honoured to be able to put a blue plaque in honour of my mum.”

Prominent equalities campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE said:  “With the support of the public, it is great that we can have a blue plaque for the late Paulette Wilson, a leading campaigner exposing the Windrush scandal. Her courage and determination inspired the public and many of the victims of the scandal to come forward to share their experiences of the hostile environment which I believe eventually took on her physical and mental health and subsequent death in July 2020.

“Thus, it is only fit and proper to have this plaque in her town Wolverhampton.

“This legacy will act as a beacon of her contribution and as symbolism of her sacrifice along with others regarding the ongoing battle for the Windrush Generation justice and race equality in Britain.”

Councillor Sandra Samuels, Deputy Mayor of Wolverhampton said: “As the first African Caribbean mayor in the 173 years history of the council and part of the Windrush Generation, it is such an honour to be part of this important occasion on Windrush Day of the unveiling of this blue plaque for the late Paulette Wilson.

“She was a champion and well loved and respected in the community.

“As one of the founding members of the heritage centre we have worked tirelessly hard to provide a legacy for the Windrush Generation in Wolverhampton. Paulette loved coming to the centre to meet friends and to socialise so this is the ideal place to have this plaque.”

Last year, the Windrush Film Festival (WCFF) launched the inaugural Paulette Wilson Windrush Award to be given an individual who has been instrumental in advancing the narrative to achieve justice for the Windrush generation.

This was awarded to The Independent’s Race Correspondent Nadine White for her ongoing coverage of the scandal and The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman.

While discussing the blue plaque that will be erected in Ms Wilson’s memory, Frances-Anne Solomon, founding member of WCFF, told The Independent: “We’re thrilled Paulette Wilson is being recognised and celebrated in her home city.

“It is imperative heroes like Paulette are never forgotten. This is one of the reasons we launched the Paulette Wilson Justice Award which will be awarded annually “.

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