A stirring and compelling novel about the scandalous treatment of Windrush immigrants. In the 1960s and ‘70s a disproportionate number of black children who came to Britain were sent to special schools for so called educationally subnormal (E.S.N.)  children whatever their talents, starting their life in Britain at a disadvantage because of their race. This introduction to racism would haunt them throughout their lives.

Because You Were There

Because You Were There

The Book

Because You Were There Follows the treatment of Windrush immigrants in Britain through the eyes of one child and her teacher who sees the injustices.

The failure to encourage one particularly talented child, Tina, is seen through the eyes of Felicity, her special needs teacher who would have liked to help but didn’t.

Fifty years later Felicity returns to the same town and realises that Tina has suffered from discrimination throughout her life, and her family too. Is it possible to make amends, or even to say sorry?

A book about belonging. Tina left Jamaica, where she was loved and valued, for a country that treats her like dirt. In spite of all this, she feels a strong attachment to Britain. Felicity, who was born British, is alienated and feels that Britain no longer represents her values.

Tina was silent for a second. Then she shut her desk lid with a reverberating slam and stood up.

"You wouldn't dare," she challenged. "What about Denise? You're only getting at me because I'm black."

Tina, a bright and rebellious ten-year-old from Jamaica, leaves her homeland in 1968 to join her mother in Britain. But instead of receiving a warm welcome, Tina is forced to attend an ESN school, where she is treated as inferior due to her Jamaican heritage. Eventually, in desperation, she writes a cry for help in the form of a poem, giving it to the one teacher she trusts. But her teacher, Felicity, ignores her hidden plea, though as the years go by she remains haunted by the memory of the vulnerable teenager.

Fifty years later, Tina and Felicity cross paths again, and as Felicity grows closer to Tina's family, she is drawn into a racist hate campaign conducted by her neighbours against Tina’s daughter. Can Felicity ever make amends for all that Tina and her family have suffered? 

Author Joan Lewis was a young teacher at a special needs school in the early ‘70s. She saw first-hand how children were failed because of their race. She feels that it is important to recognize that the racism and injustice facing Windrush immigrants by the Home Office now is not new.

About the Author

JOAN LEWIS was born a Geordie, growing up in Newcastle and Durham. She began teaching in Carlisle, then moved to Cheltenham and then Bath. Her experiences of teaching at a special school, and living amongst the magnificent architecture of Bath, inspired this novel.

Joan subsequently lived in Germany before returning to Britain – London - and then to a small holding in Pembrokeshire, where she and her husband practised self-sufficiency. They kept a Jersey cow, sheep, goats and chickens while she taught in Milford Haven, followed by headship in Pembroke Dock. After many years they moved to Marlborough, Wiltshire , where she became head of the infant school

In 2002, Joan took early retirement and moved to France. For the past 21 years they have lived in an amazing spot in the hills of Languedoc. She now feels that she belongs more in France than Britain. 

BECAUSE YOU WERE THERE is available in paperback (£7.99) and ebook (£2.49).

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
find me on and follow me on