By Terry Njoki
Reverend Clive Foster, a senior minister at the Pilgrim Church in Nottingham was recently decorated with a national award by the former Home Secretary.
Rev. Foster was awarded with the Home Secretary Commendation Award “For an outstanding contribution in the field of home affairs”. He caught up with the Mojatu Magazine editor Pa Modou Faal in this interview:
Could you tell us what was the award about?
I was given this award very much to my surprise just recently in August, by the then Home Secretary the right honourable Pretty Patel and every year the Home office gives out awards for contribution of service to the UK Home Affairs.
Those awards are given mainly to people who have been working within the Home office capacity for instance, people from the fire service department, the police force, the civil service and also a few people from the community.
How were you eligible?
I was given this award for the work I have been doing more recently with the Home Office surrounding the Windrush Scandal which was people who were unfortunately wrongly classified as being illegal from the Commonwealth and also a series of the work I have been doing in the community over the years as well.
I received the award which was very humbling because I know am part of a team of people that have done this work as well.
What was the criteria for the award?
The outstanding service to the UK Home Affairs, as we know the Home Office has a very important role in a multiple of activities such as protection, security and so on. The criteria include contributions that have brought about significant impact in the UK.
The award is a and is a commendation in recognition of such contributions. When I went for the award, I noticed that there were a number of people who received awards as well for the work that they have done in Afghanistan, outstanding works in terms of security in the police force.
When I entered the room for the awards, I noticed I had never been in a room where there were so many police in uniform.
It was probably two people from the community who received awards as well, as the majority of those who received the awards were connected to actually working with the Home Office in the security forces, fire services and civil service.
What is your contribution towards the Windrush saga?
The Windrush scandal came into the public domain in 2018 which was about people from the Commonwealth who were wrongly classified as being illegal effectively as a result of the government’s hostile environment policy to address immigration and sadly a number of people from the Commonwealth particularly from the Caribbean Islands were classified as illegal to which some of them were wrongly detained and deported while others lost their jobs and could not also get access to social services.
But most importantly in some ways, lost a sense of dignity and self-worth and respect as well as a sense of belonging to this country ending up to them giving up ideas.
When that scandal broke, the government came to realise that they have made an error and done wrong, and they were set to rectify it by creating some schemes to help people get through the situation.
The two schemes were one a quicker, efficient, and less pay process to get your papers right and to be classified as the right paperwork. Secondly, a compensation scheme to compensate for the wrongs people had suffered.
The local Pilgrim Church in The Meadows and I and the leadership team and members of the community formed a group to give visibility to our community about the schemes.
We had meetings with the Home Office to which we mentioned what is and what is not working for the communities in regard to accessing the scheme.
We were able to get a number of people have their paperwork done to get their status sorted out and get on with their lives as proper citizens and enable some people get compensation as well.
Are you involved in other projects in within Nottingham?
Unfortunately, knife crime is still with us, and we do have a situation whereby there are many young people who are carrying knives in our community, and they are victims of both knife crime and sometimes perpetrators of the crime.
When it happens amongst the minority ethnic groups it becomes more intensified because we are a smaller group and have a greater level of impact in the community.
So, it is still ongoing to work with young people falling into the area of carrying knives and work with the police to get the message out there.
We worked with some of the church members to design some T-shirts, flyers and some publicity material as well as worked with barbers and hairdressers in the communities to help publicise our project “Say No To Knives And Save Lives”.
What is the reception of the project like?
We wanted to get the young people involved in the solution projects, which some mentioned as being in their own peer groups and hear conversations with people who could potentially be carrying knives and they themselves become advocates and champions to speak against the dangers of carrying a knife and a weapon.
I was very pleased with the response from the hairdresser and the barbershop businesses who said they wanted to do something about it and want to be a part of spreading the message and would as well talk to individuals and youngsters by guiding them.
When someone is affected by knife crime everyone around them is affected including family and friends and the pain that funerals bring as well as potential retaliation.
Do you get some support from the community?
There are a number of organisations and people within the community who are providing this service and am part of the Nottingham Majority Black Led Churches working collectively to see how we can support young people and parents who are suffering in this area whether that’s through pastoral support or actually engaging with the police as these are some of the ways you are supposed to intervene and treat people.
There is a very good project known as the Kaya Project which is run by Pastor Hyacinth and some young people who provide a service there, Breaking Barriers and Building Bridges – who do great work by talking to people on the streets and in other community groups.
We are doing a lot of preventative work whereby sometimes you don’t see the result of it but it’s important those organisations and spaces are made available.
What would you like to conclude with?
There are still people in the Windrush scandal who need help to get their rightful immigration status sorted out and also people we are helping get compensated. We continue to reach out to people to get engaged in the Pilgrim Church Community Hub to get involved in the paperwork.
Next year marks 75 years since the Windrush ship came over to the UK making it a special time in history to which we are planning on recognising that special date that migrants came over.
Black history is about British History and not only where we have suffered but where we have made tremendous black contributions to the country over a number of centuries.