Windrush generation and support for undocumented migrants
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The Windrush generation refers to people who, between 1948 to 1971, were invited by successive governments to relocate to Britain from their homes in Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean to address labour shortages.
New laws which came into force with the 2014 Immigration Act, which the Government called its ‘hostile environment’ approach, led to some facing immigration checks and despite being British citizens, many from the Windrush generation didn’t have formal papers to prove their lawful status. This led to many being denied access to benefits, healthcare, social housing and losing their jobs, with some even wrongly detained and deported.
About 8% of Hackney’s population is of Afro-Caribbean ethnic background and it’s believed the borough is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of the Windrush generation and Commonwealth countries across the globe.
In April 2018 the Home Office launched its compensation scheme for those who have ‘suffered a loss’ because they couldn’t easily demonstrate their right to live in the UK. The scheme is open to anyone from a Commonwealth country who arrived before 1 January 1973, and those with a ‘right of abode’ or ‘settled status’ who arrived in the UK before 31 December 1988, regardless of their original nationality. As well as those directly affected, it also covers other family members such as children and carers.
Compensation could be paid for losses related to:
- immigration fees
- driving licences
- impact on normal daily life (for example, you missed key family events or were unable to travel or have suffered mental health issues)
- detention and removal
In August 2018, Hackney was the first council in the UK to pass a comprehensive motion regarding the Windrush generation. The Council also celebrates Windrush Day on 22 June – the date the ship HMT Empire Windrush landed at Tilbury Docks in 1948.
Our commitments are to:
- continue to actively campaign for an end to all ‘hostile environment’ policy measures and persist to call on the government to enable the Windrush generation to acquire British citizenship at no cost and with proactive assistance
- lead the way, by celebrating Windrush Day and welcome the government’s announcement to make 22 June an annual celebration to recognise and honour the contributions of the Windrush generation
- press the Prime Minister to respond to the independent public enquiry into the Windrush scandal
- demand the government fully supports advice agencies in their work to achieve justice for all Hackney residents of the Windrush generation
- review the Council’s own policies and procedures to ensure we support those affected
- support the call for fees for naturalisation to be waived for all those who have been affected
- oppose the criminalisation of Windrush families
May 2018: Mayor Philip Glanville wrote an open letter to the Home Secretary Sajid Javid urging him to commit to undoing the ‘appalling’ hostile environment immigration policies.
October 2018: The Council submitted a consultation response to the government’s proposed compensation scheme for victims of the Windrush scandal.
December 2018: Mayor Glanville wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May calling on her to “commit to an independent inquiry into the ongoing Windrush generation scandal”.
September 2019: Cllr Williams wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel urging government to “scrap the inhumane “hostile environment policy” and “launch a formal independent inquiry”.
October 2019: The Home Office responded claiming they were ‘determined to right the wrongs suffered by the Windrush generation’.
February 2020: Mayor Glanville and Cllr Williams wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling to take the Windrush compensation scheme bill further and fund a campaign to alert individuals of their right to claim.
February 2020: Mayor Glanville and Cllr Williams wrote to Yvette Cooper MP, Chair of the Home Affairs Committee to re-open the Windrush Generation inquiry in light of the Windrush Compensation Scheme (Expenditure) Bill.
March 2020: J Yates Customer, Performance and Improvement UK Visas and Immigration responded with details of the deportations to Jamaica in February 2020.
2020’s Windrush Generation festival will be adapted to an online offering due to the restrictions of Covid-19. The festival will launch 15 June on the new LoveHackney website and Hackney’s Black History Facebook page.
One of the highlights of the 2020 festival will be the announcement of the Windrush Artwork commission. In partnership with The Genesis Foundation, Create, and with consultation from Mark Sealy from Autograph ABG and Mayor Philip Glanville, the Council will commission a permanent, public artwork to honour the Windrush generation based on three finalist submissions from artists with Windrush heritage. Public consultation for the project ended in February 2020.
Information and news stories on the Council’s previous Windrush Generations Festivals is available on the Council’s news site.