How Ipswich’s Windrush generation dealt with challenges they faced
PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 December 2018 | UPDATED: 08:12 01 January 2019
The daughter of a couple who arrived in Suffolk nearly 70 years ago as part of the Windrush generation has looked back at the challenges they faced as she continues her fight for racial equality.
Franstine Jones, named one of Suffolk’s 100 Inspiring Women earlier this year, believes it was the experiences of her parents and other migrants faced that has driven her forward.
Her parents, Jeremiah and Gwendolyn Limerick, moved from Antigua to Ipswich in the late 1950s.
Mr and Mrs Limerick left behind three children in the hope of earning some money and making all of their lives better.
The couple both found work at Cranes - Gwendolyn would work all night and Jeremiah would take day shifts.
Mrs Jones said: “I always saw how hard my mum and dad worked and thought to myself: ‘Wow it is a hard job,’ as in a heavy, dirty, noisy and a hot environment to work in.
“They were on their feet all the time. They were bringing home enough money to support what they had in this county and the family over in the Caribbean Islands, so they were working pretty hard to sustain that.”
They may have found work but the transition to life in Suffolk was difficult for the pair.
Mrs Jones, who was the first of their children to be born in the UK, said: “When my parents came over it was during the time where there were no Irish and no black people.
“I think it was really, really hard for them coming to this country.
“It was very difficult to get housing, so my mum and dad always lived in private housing.
“We didn’t have a washing machine, so my mum would use a laundrette and we would go to St Matthew’s Baths to have a bath, otherwise it was one of those tin baths. Our toilet was outside.
“My dad had an allotment so there was always an abundance of fruit and vegetables and a lot of the people from the Caribbean Islands had allotments all over Ipswich.
“I can honestly say I never wanted for anything, but also my mum and dad brought us up not to expect anything.
“They would always try their best to get us nice things but if they couldn’t, we were told to just accept it because that’s how it is.
“My parents gave me a good work ethic. Everyone in the family has a really good work ethic.”
After seeing what her parents went through Mrs Jones, now 55, knew she did not want to follow the same career path.
“For me it was going to be a case of I never wanted to work for a factory,” she said.
“I saw what my parents went through and I thought: ‘No way I will ever have that kind of job.’”
Mrs Jones has had an array of influential and ground-breaking roles, including being the first female in the history of the National Black Police Association to be elected as its president.
She now runs a training business called Binspyred.
She has also been a trustee of Voyage Youth and Suffolk Rape Crisis, the vice-chairman on the board of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality and a human resources diversity officer for Suffolk County Council.
She headed up a study called the ICE project, which looked at 25 individuals who left the Caribbean Islands to come to Ipswich. It looked at their lives before emigrating to the UK and how that compared to their life in England. She was saddened by the results.
She said: “What was sad was a lot of those individuals were professionals but couldn’t find employment over here because of the racism they faced so they either ended up in low paid work or set their own businesses up.
“They spoke about the racism they faced with regards to housing, with regards to jobs, they talked about their faith, setting up churches, they talked about food and trying to find the things they were use to, hair care, skin care things like that.
“I thought it took a lot of courage to leave somewhere, come to a country where you don’t know anyone, you don’t know what it’s going to be like.
“Then when you do get here you’re received really negatively, the attacks that people were subjected too, the racism, the hatred.
“You left your hot sunny country to go and work somewhere which rains a lot, it snows a lot, it’s cold.
“I just looked at my mother and father and thought: ‘Gosh it took great courage for you to do that.’
“I don’t know if I would have done that, but you wanted a better life for yourselves and you wanted a better life for your family so I absolutely and totally respect my parents for that.”