Untold Stories: NHS Windrush Stories

Manchester City of Literature project

To commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Windrush and the NHS, Manchester Metropolitan University, in partnership with Manchester City of Literature, are showcasing recent work on the NHS Windrush Stories project.

Working alongside Manchester City of Literature Community Champion, Jackie Bailey, we devised an exciting programme of workshops for African Caribbean NHS workers (past and present) and their families and communities to explore their experiences of contributing to the NHS Story.

What we did

Working alongside Manchester City of Literature Community Champion Jackie Bailey, we co-designed and delivered a series of workshops to NHS staff led by industry-leading writers including Shirley May, Micah Yongo and Keisha Thompson to develop writing to be exhibited at the Manchester Poetry Library.

The writers also took part in a photo shoot with professional photographer, Chris Saunders. The images taken form part of the NHS Untold Stories exhibition at the Manchester Poetry Library and you can see a preview above.


Writing and Mentoring

Following the initial workshop phase, 7 NHS Windrush Stories writers received follow up mentoring to develop their writing. They worked alongside the writers who delivered the initial workshops to prepare their writing for publication and exhibition. The writing spanned genres including poetry, creative journaling, fantasy and music.

Launch Events

Windrush Stories Launch

The NHS Windrush Stories Writers took part in a special launch event at the Manchester Poetry Library on 15th June. During this event, the writers shared their work and reflected on the process of producing their writing. It was a moment for the community to come together and reflect on the significance of Windrush and the contribution of Black people to the NHS.

The event had over 40 people in attendance and marked the first time writing from the project had been showcased publicly.

NHS Untold Stories Launch

The NHS Windrush Writers took part in the Untold Stories of the NHS exhibition launch where Dr Kim Moore presented the work she was commissioned to produce as part of her residency at Trafford General Hospital. Sandra Smith-Brown and Yinka Ekundayo performed their work at the event to rapturous applause.

The work of the NHS Windrush Writers plays a prominent role in the Untold Stories of the NHS exhibition at Manchester Poetry Library.


Community Led Workshop

Three NHS Windrush Writers delivered their own workshop at Manchester Central Library on 19th June to inspire other members of the community to explore their own stories of Windrush. The workshop attracted 12 participants, all of whom were able to complete a piece of writing during the two-hour workshop. This workshop is delivered with the ethos that participants should be empowered to become facilitators. Capturing and sharing untold stories is very important, and we encourage you to share yours!


The History of Windrush

On June 22, 1948, 13 days before Nye Bevan inaugurated the National Health Service by opening its first hospital in Manchester, HMT Windrush docked at Tilbury, bringing 802 passengers who recorded their last country of residence in the ship’s records as somewhere in the Caribbean, 693 of whom intended to stay in the United Kingdom, taking up the opportunity created by the British Nationality Act shortly to be passed.

The Windrush travellers have given a name to a whole generation of West Indians who arrived in Britain between the second world war and the early 1970s, responding to government recruitment drives which invited them to help in the reconstruction of the nation. Many of them found work in the newly-formed NHS, which was struggling in particular with a shortage of nurses, and by 1954, 6 years after its inception, over 3,000 women from the Caribbean were training in NHS hospitals. They followed in the footsteps of Caribbean nurses working in Britain long before the NHS and Windrush, including famous examples such as Mary Seacole, Jamaican nurse to troops in the Crimean war, and many who are less well-known from the first half of the twentieth century.


See the Untold Stories film here

The birthplace of the NHS, Trafford General Hospital