After publication of the 'lessons learned' report into the Windrush scandal, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has apologised in the House of Lords for the "wickedness" of the "terrible reception" given to members of the Windrush generation by the Church of England. "One of the historic failures of the Church of England, in many ways as bad as the 'hostile environment,' was the terrible reception we gave to the Windrush Britain generation, many of them Anglicans. As a result they went off and formed their own churches which have flourished much better than ours.We would have been so much stronger if we had behaved correctly." He said they were very often "turned away" or given a "very weak welcome or no welcome at all". Read more here.
This article from the Independent by Sinai Fleary about the Windrush compensation scheme features the story of Leeford Hammond – just one of many individuals who's lives have been blighted by the "Hostile Environment". Leeford came to Britain in 1971 at the age of 15. He settled in London and ran an estate agency. In July 2017, after a number of problem-free trips, he was refused entry back into the UK from Jamaica. This was despite having indefinite leave to remain and living and working here for over 40 years. He was stranded in Jamaica for 6 months, separated from his wife and 5 children, and had to use his pension fund to pay for legal fees, and as his health suffered, medical bills. After finally being granted a visa he arrived back in the UK in October 2017 to find his business in ruins with no clients. Hammond filed his compensation claim in April last year, but has heard nothing since, and is now in danger of losing his home.
The article says the compensation scheme is complex and slow and adds to the suffering of those who try to claim. It has been estimated that the compensation total could be between £200-£570m. So far £62,198 has been paid out to 36 claimants. "When the scheme was launched, promises were made of a quick service and to 'right the wrongs' but in recent years, many Windrush victims have died before they received a penny or an apology. The tragedies of people like Sarah O’Connor, Jashwa Moses and Hubert Howard should have sparked some urgent changes to the scheme."
Read more here.
In response to the Windrush Review, published yesterday, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced three new initiatives as she gave an apology in Parliament.
MJR's initial response to the report and what action should now be taken is to:
The long overdue independent report on the Windrush Scandal was finally published today, amid much suspicion that the timing, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic, strongly suggests the government are hoping it's contents and recommendations will receive as little attention as possible.
The Windrush Lessons Learned Review is scathing on the way British citizens were wrongly deported, dismissed from their jobs and deprived of services such as NHS care and says the Home Office demonstrated “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race” during the Windrush scandal. It concludes that the failings are “consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism”.
The report’s author, Wendy Williams said at its launch: “The Windrush generation has been poorly served by this country, a country to which they contributed so much and in which they had every right to make their lives. The many stories of injustice and hardships are heartbreaking, with jobs lost, lives uprooted and untold damage done to so many individuals and families.” The 275-page report says the roots of the problem can be traced back to racially motivated legislation dating back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Read more here and here.
MP David Lammy commented: "If the government is serious about righting the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation, it will recognise that this moment cannot be ignored. The hostile environment must be replaced by a humane environment". Read his opinion piece here.
Read the Home Secretary's response to the report here, and access the report itself here.
A group of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking legal action against the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence over an alleged systemic failure to assist them with complex, unaffordable immigration rules on discharge, part of the tightening of the Home Office’s “hostile environment” regulations after 2012. This has left them classified as illegal immigrants, facing unemployment and homelessness and fearing deportation.
The action involves eight former soldiers, who were all recruited to the army from Fiji, but the lawyers believe hundreds of ex-service personnel from Commonwealth countries are similarly affected. One of them said: “It is so unfair for veterans to have to suffer the indignity of being vulnerable to being forcibly removed from the country that we so loyally served, especially when we are in this situation because of oversights on the part of army during the discharge process.” Read the full story here.
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