October is Black History Month – an opportunity for us to share, celebrate and understand the contribution that black people have made in the UK and around the world.

In the first of our Black History Month stories, we meet Simon Cooper. Simon is a Safety Officer on board Arvia, and will be bringing her into service in December. 

Simon tells us more about his family’s journey to the UK, and his own experience as a man of Afro-Caribbean descent. Here’s his story:

The Windrush Generation
“74 years ago, my grandparents immigrated to the United Kingdom from Jamaica. They travelled to the UK in search of work and opportunity, after the UK government at the time advertised the need for labour. They were a part of the ‘Windrush Generation’ of people who immigrated to the UK from the Caribbean between 1948 and 1971.This was the first time any of my black ancestors had been on a ship by choice.”

Fighting for an equal future
“When they arrived, they had no choice but to work hard, not just for money, but for fair treatment and equality. Black people usually weren’t allowed in the same venues as white people, my grandfather, along with a group of peers would hold social events and raise funds, eventually founding the West Indian social club in Southampton. He was an advocate for equality and respect towards black people, and once referred to as a ‘pillar of the black community’. There’s even a road named after him.”

My experience in the UK has been very different to that of my grandparents – no small part thanks to the hard work they took on all those years ago. 60 years on, I, like them, also made the decision to step onto a ship. Not as an immigrant, but as a prospective Captain.”

Where are we now?
“In my opinion, complete equality for black people has not yet been achieved in any area of the world, including on ships, but it continues to improve.

I am proud to work for Carnival UK, a company that values the importance of this and, one day, hope to be the first Captain for CUK of Afro-Caribbean descent.

It’s important to remember that one of the biggest reasons I could ever achieve this, is the work of my grandparents, others before them, and others since. That is what we celebrate in Black History Month 2022 – the people before us, who have recognised and invested in the need for change.”

Black History Month 2022 – Join our live event on 18 October

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