Liverpool residents struggling to complete their Windrush claims to the Home Office will soon get help after a new pressure group was launched to assist them. The Liverpool Windrush Generation & Descendants was launched on Sunday June 20 2021 in the church premises of Christian Gold House Ministry off Kensington Road. The launch was part of commemorative activities to celebrate the role people from the Caribbean and Commonwealth have played in various sectors of the UK economy since they arrived in large numbers initially on a ship named Windrush in 1948 and later immigration from other countries. Windrush Defenders legal CIC, Cultural Diversity Network, Christian Gold House Ministry and Citizen outreach Coalition were the three partner organisations that worked to organise the launch. Liverpool residents are invited for free surgeries to talk their issues with the organisation that could help them facilitate their applications for settled status and when necessary, compensation.
Navigating the application process
Speaking during the launch, Anthony Brown who was himself a Windrush victim said he applied to the scheme successfully in 2018 because he was not a British citizen though he had lived in the UK for many years. “Completing the application form is quite straight forward. Within a few weeks, I had to send in various documents to show that I have been living here-a letter from my doctor, my identity like my driving licence, if I had any qualifications, I had to send that as well. Those are the documents most people will have” he added. Tonika Stephenson who chaired the launch said the government had given a three years’ time frame for people to apply and it was good they do so while there was still time. She added that “If you have any legal questions, any uncertainty about your status or compensation, if you have something unrelated to Windrush, please do come and see us. If we can help, we will”.
Glenda Andrews another launch panelist said she had been campaigning about the uncertainly facing descendants of migrants who thought they were British because they were born in Britain. Her paper titled “Does your parents legal status matter” delved into her own personal story and that of others as she noticed they had to put up spirited fights to rectify their status. They want the Home Office to spell out the rules concerning descendants of Windrush migrants so they do not get into problems in future. Lorna Downer presented a talk on the community effects of the whole Windrush crisis which did not only affect those involved directly but also their close friends, relatives and the community at large. Garrick Prayogg from Cultural Diversity Network presented a talk on the trauma victims of Windrush go through because of the uncertainties and again reminded people Windrush was not only about Caribbean people. “Windrush affects people from the commonwealth, people from Africa, people from India. Bangladesh etc they are also affected….It is a Caribbean thing, it is an Indian thing and everything else”
Questions & answers
The launch closed with organisers answering questions from members of the public. On how people who attended the open surgeries will be helped, Tonika Stephenson said during sessions, they will go through the application forms with people, explain any legal jargon and what kind of evidence they could provide to get compensation. They could also help victims draft letters to get evidence from a range of people who could support their claims or why they could not provide specific documents they were being asked to provide. On another question how people could check out their status, Anthony Brown said it all depended on persons’ particular circumstances which they could establish after they talked to them during the open surgeries.
Surgeries will hold every Thursday from 12noon to 2pm at the Christian Gold House Ministry and at The Indian Centre in Liverpool
A barbecue and some Africa music and drumming added a light touch to the event
The Windrush scheme was launched in 2018 to enable commonwealth citizens, their children and some other long term UK residents to obtain their documentation to confirm their status. In April 2019, a compensation scheme was also launched to compensate members of the windrush generation and their families if they suffered either job loss, broken marriages, trauma etc because they could not prove their immigration status.
As part of Windrush commemorative events, Citizen Outreach Coalition held a public sensitization campaign in the heart of the City centre in Liverpool One, distributing, signposting people to the open surgeries and home office task force responsible for the Windrush application process. Citizen Outreach was one of fourteen community organisations funded by the Home Office to raise awareness about the scheme and encourage more people to apply for settled documentation and compensation.