22 June 2022
Four years on, and with Windrush survivors still experiencing barriers to compensation, more legal support is available.
On 22 June, to mark the annual Windrush Day, the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) is raising awareness of the free legal support available to help more than 11,000 survivors of the Windrush scandal. The programme aims to encourage more survivors, who were unlawfully detained, deported or denied their legal rights by the UK Government, and who are still to apply for compensation.
Following the launch of the Windrush Compensation Scheme in April 2019, only 7% of Windrush survivors have been compensated for the hardships and discrimination they unlawfully suffered.
Around £40 million has been reportedly paid or offered to 1037 of the 3878 Windrush generation applicants. Yet only 25% have received payments. The Home Office estimated that around 15,000 were due compensation. Recent reports on the scheme by the Home Affairs Select Committee, JUSTICE and the Windrush Justice Clinic all concluded that the lack of government funded legal advice was a barrier to claimants bringing claims.
In April 2021 the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) in partnership with eight leading law firms (Taylor Wessing, Latham & Watkins, Charles Russell Speechlys, Dechert, Linklaters, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Debevoise and White & Case) set up the Windrush Legal Initiative to provide legal advice and support for people to apply to the Windrush Compensation Scheme. In January 2022, the Windrush Legal Initiative transferred from JCWI to GMIAU. Over the last year it has assisted 29 people with their claims.
Co-leading on some of the pro bono claims, Associate Nicole Ng Yuen said: "There's a real lack of awareness of the support available to victims, and we want to change that. Some of the people we represent arrived in the UK as young as 10 years old and are still suffering tremendously as a result of being unable to confirm their rights and entitlements to remain in the UK. We want people to be more aware of the legal support available to them and to help them receive the compensation they deserve. Over the coming year the programme aims to support more Windrush survivors. GMIAU have recently been awarded funding from the Access to Justice Foundation to provide outreach sessions to ensure work is targeted to those who most need it."
Former Director of JCWI and now Supervising Solicitor of GMIAU, Nicola Burgess said: "The initiative provides vital access to justice for those who have experienced decades of disbelief. An inability to prove lawful status denies a person their rights and prevents access to key services we take for granted. The human impact of this is immeasurable. Many survivors we work with have lost employment, been detained, threatened with deportation, made homeless, experienced the breakdown of relationships and have been unable to visit loved ones. Working with our teams of lawyers they at last feel supported and listened to."
Survivors of the Windrush generation can contact Nicola Burgess at GMIAU (firstname.lastname@example.org) to access further information and for legal support.
Statistics published and calculated from information given by The Home office.
Windrush Day is recognised annually in the United Kingdom every 22 June, to honour the Windrush generation (that is, those who came to the U.K., mainly from Caribbean islands, between 1948 and 1973 to help the NHS and other sectors following Britain’s post-war labour shortage), recognise the hardships and struggles they endured and those their descendants continue to face, and also to mark their contribution to British society.
On 22 June 1948, the Empire Windrush ship arrived in Essex, bringing with it more than a thousand passengers. Many Afro-Caribbean immigrants arrived lawfully to assist and work in essential industries, including steel, coal, iron and food production, as well as public transportation. Many were not given correct immigration documentation and also faced overt racism and violence as they settled into the UK.
Windrush Day was first held on 22 June 2018, following the successful five-year campaign of Patrick Vernon to commemorate and acknowledge the contribution of the Windrush generation to British culture, society and the economy.
Britons observe Windrush Day with parades, campaigns and other festive events.
In 2018, news of the Windrush scandal broke. Commonwealth citizens who had been in the UK for decades were facing major problems as they were unable to prove their right to be in the UK. Despite their lawful residence and as a result of the government’s increasing insistence on immigration checks in every aspect of life – known as the Hostile Environment – people were denied access to key services. Many lost their jobs, housing, access to benefits and people were even wrongly detained and deported. Lives were ruined. Many, like Rupert Everett who GMIAU supported, passed away before being able to see justice.
Home Affairs Select Committee report: The Windrush Compensation Scheme, November 2021
JUSTICE report: Reforming the Windrush Compensation Scheme, November 2021
The Windrush Justice Clinic: Preliminary Research Report: The Windrush Compensation Scheme: Unmet Need for Legal Advice, March 2022
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