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UK’s First Race Correspondent Launches Groundbreaking ‘Barrel Children’ Film for Windrush 75

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The UK’s first dedicated Race Correspondent is launching a new feature-length film to coincide with the 75th anniversary of Windrush.

Nadine White’s debut documentary, Barrel Children: The Families Windrush Left Behind, peels back the layered tales of the Caribbean youngsters who grew up away from their Windrush parents before migrating to join them in Britain. 

The term ‘Barrel Children’ is commonly used to describe children whose only connection with their parents was through remittances from abroad. 

Hailed as a “must watch” by Barbara Blake-Hannah, Britain’s first Black television newspaper reporter, Britain’s first Black woman MP Diane Abbott described the documentary as “a moving film about the young children that the Windrush migrants to the UK left behind and the effects of that involuntary separation”. 

Exploring the children’s stories of reconciliation and rediscovery within a new world that made little sense to them, the film will be screened at Picturehouse Cinemas from Sunday 25 June alongside a recorded Q&A with the filmmaker. 

Director Nadine White said: “The impact of serial migration upon Black Caribbean families has yet to be robustly explored in the national conversation around Windrush. For the first time in British cinematic history, this film will highlight these underexplored perspectives.

“This has been a five-year-long labour of love, inspired by my late father who was a ‘Barrel Child’, and I am delighted that people will finally get to see the documentary in its full form.

“It is evident that the common experience of being ‘left behind’ and this phenomenon’s psychological, emotional and social impact is still being felt in various ways across different generations within the Caribbean diaspora.”

Ms White, who funded and executive produced the film, added: “I hope this project will help to foster important conversations about the Barrel Child experiences, as well as bring about community cohesion and healing.”

The film features interviews from a number of former ‘Barrel Children’ including Neil Kenlock – the founder of Britain’s first Black radio station Choice FM, renowned reggae music producer Blacker Dread, former BBC broadcaster Evadney Campbell MBE and more. 

Dr Elaine Arnold, who was recently appointed MBE by Buckingham Palace, also appears in the film as one of few British academics to have studied attachment theory in the context of Windrush.

Leah Byrne, Picturehouse Audience Development Manager, said: “The legacy of the Windrush Generation is an ongoing story and Barrel Children: The Families Windrush Left Behind gives a crucial insight into a part of that story that has been less well known – the impact on the children of the pioneers who left the Caribbean to help rebuild Britain. 

“Picturehouse are proud to support the film and help give a platform to the experiences of the Windrush generation and their families, and to recognise and celebrate the immeasurable difference that they have made to the UK.”

Baroness Floella Benjamin OBE, chair of the government’s Windrush Commemoration Committee, said: “I was one of those ‘left behind’ Windrush children. I survived because my parents showered love on me before they left me so I could face the trauma. This is such an important story that needs to be heard.”

The documentary was also supported by Jamaica’s former high commissioner to the UK, Mr Seth Ramocan who said: “I am extremely pleased to support the production of this inspiring and thought-provoking documentary which highlights the many challenges faced by members of the Windrush generation as they migrated to the United Kingdom in search of a better life and opportunities for their children, while responding to the call of Britain in its rebuilding efforts.”

Barrel Children: The Families Windrush Left Behind will be premiered to a sold-out audience at the iconic Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, south London, on Saturday 24 June 2023. 

A national tour of the film will commence this summer within community hubs across destinations including Birmingham, Manchester and Derby.

The release of this film coincides with the unveiling of Over A Barrel: Windrush Children Tragedy and Triumph, an exhibition curated by Ms White and the Black Cultural Archives

Opening on Thursday 22 June, the display will delve into the tales of the children of Windrush, stories deeply intertwined with both tragedy and triumph. 

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