Dawn Hill CBE played a leading role in setting up and running the governance of the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) when she worked alongside its founding chair: the community activist, photographer, historian, and educationalist, Len Garrison (1943-2003).  She became chair of the charity in 2012 and led the BCA’s support for those affected by the Windrush scandal.  She retired from the board of the BCA in 2023.

Interview by Juanita Cox

Dawn Hill Interview [Excerpt]

KEYWORDS: Hostile environment, Guys & St Thomas’s Foundation Trust, undocumented, papers, Jamaica, Lady Seear, House of Commons, LSE

Copyright & Permissions: Dawn Hill granted the University of London exclusive licence to use this material for (i) academic and teaching activities, (ii) research facilitation and promotion and (iii) reporting or knowledge transfer.  This was done with the understanding that names of third parties would be excluded except for those in the public domain.  This material, including photograph, cannot be reproduced without permission.


28 February 2023  Dawn Hill’s home in London


JC:         Dr Juanita Cox (Interviewer)
DH:       Dawn Hill (Respondent)

TRANSCRIPT [Excerpt taken from 12:41 – 14:45]

JC          12:41   

So as part of that role, I mean, I think when you became chairman in 2012 [of the BCA], that was around the same time that Theresa May was introducing the hostile environment. And I’m just wondering, when did you actually first realise that members of the community were facing difficulties in terms of their undocumented status?

DH         13:08

Well, you know, I was also on the board of Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation Trust. And it came to the board, that there were odd members of… There was this man who had worked at St. Thomas’ for 48 years. And he was being, he had to be, he had to leave because of not not having any papers. And I said, What on earth is that all about? I mean, this man, he was one of the top people, you know, in the ancillary services. And I said, No, no, I want to see this. I want to see what’s going on here. You know, this isn’t right. And before that, there was a woman when I was was at LSE , there was this… No, it was after I was at the LSE; there’s this woman whose daughter was being sent back to Jamaica. And I intervened on that. I actually wrote the letter to go to the House of Commons for Lady Seear [British social scientist and politician] to talk about it, and that girl stayed in this country, but I just thought they were just the odd things.

JC          14:24

But so that’s interesting, because that would have been in the 70s.

DH         14:28   

Yes, yes, exactly. And, you know, I just, and this man, honestly, it was so sad. And he had to leave. And I thought this is disgraceful. And I thought, well, I don’t know.

JC          14:41

Did anybody understand why he had to leave?

DH         14:44

No, no, he just didn’t have his passport. He didn’t have the right papers.


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