When Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks in 1948, around 200 of the passengers found temporary accommodation in the Clapham Deep Shelter, and came to Coldharbour Lane in my constituency to find work at the Labour Exchange. From there many settled in the Brixton area, becoming an integral and highly valued part of our community. The scandal of the UK government’s treatment of many Windrush citizens has had a devastating impact on many of my constituents – residents from Commonwealth countries for whom the UK is home, many of whom came here as British citizens, who were denied their status by the Home Office. I’ve seen the devastation that this injustice has caused at first hand, for constituents who have been deported, denied the right to work or claim benefits or access healthcare.
Since the Windrush Scandal came to light, it has become clear that the government’s response is wholly inadequate. My constituents are finding it far too difficult to claim compensation and the government has done far too little to make the scheme accessible. As a result, the government is compounding the injustice that Windrush citizens are suffering. This week I spoke on the Windrush Compensation Scheme calling for both urgent action and emergency legislation to end the injustice Windrush victims face and to allow access to the compensation they deserve. Windrush victims and their families have suffered enough, the breach of trust in the Home Office has been profound, and the government must now listen and act to provide justice and rebuild trust.
Many Windrush citizens have turned to organisations they trust for help and advice, including the Black Cultural Archives (BCA) instead of the Home Office. BCA and other trusted organisations should not be expected to provide this advice for free. Since 2018, I’ve challenged the Government to provide funding to trusted local community organisations to support Windrush victims because this is key to ensuring that everyone who is eligible for compensation is able to claim, yet they have refused to do so. This week, I spoke in the Windrush Compensation Bill second reading debate. I highlighted the multiple ways in which the government continues to fail Windrush citizens, and called the urgent change our community needs. You can watch my speech here >>