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Broadening the Windrush Compensation Scheme narrative in Reading

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The Home Office, through the community engagement funding, has been supporting charities, grassroots organisation and local community groups activities and events pertaining to the Windrush Compensation Scheme to provide people with the correct information and to address any misinterpretations about the scheme.

In raising awareness of the Windrush Compensation Scheme, the Reading Museum hosted the 75th Windrush Anniversary celebrations, which was organised was by Reading Caribbean Associations Group in conjunction with the Utulivu Women, a partner of Mojatu Foundation on March 18th, 2024.

Reading Caribbean Associations Group and Reading Museum co-founded a brand-new consortium: the Reading Windrush Project with a steering committee that was formed, which joined forces with Reading’s Alliance for Racial and Community Cohesion (ACRE) and the Age UK Berkshire. 

Making a presentation on Windrush Compensation Scheme on March 18th, 2024, representing Utulivu Women, Mojatu Foundation and Mojatu Pro bono Legal Clinic, Journalist and communications expert, Raveena Hargun presented an information exhibition titled ‘Broadening the Narrative at the Community Wellbeing Hub and community members of Reading.

Raveena Hargun, Journalist and communications expert

In her presentation, Hargun provided the audience with useful information about eligibility criteria, step-by-step guidance on the application process, and tackled largely on misconceptions and misunderstandings about what the schemes cover.

Hargun encouraged those who feel are eligible to apply for compensation saying the process to do so is easy and that there is a dedicated Home Office section dealing with such and that also that in Mojatu Foundation through the Pro bono Legal Clinic, there are experts who can help with the application free of charge.

“It is very easy to apply, and help is available,” said Hargun.

The Home Office say the successful bidders have demonstrated how they will reach communities and individuals within and beyond the Caribbean community, including those with roots in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ghana and India.

This follows feedback from Wendy Williams’ progress update that said more needed to be done to identify and reach out to wider affected groups. 

According to the Home Office, charities and community humanitarian organisations have been awarded a share of over £150,000 from the Home Office’s Community Engagement Fund to support to diverse community groups and organisations to assist them in their engagement with individuals and communities about the Windrush schemes. 

This is considered that it will bolster efforts to reach as many people as possible who may be eligible to apply for documentation to confirm their status or for compensation. As of the end of September 2023, the Windrush Scheme has provided documentation confirming status or citizenship to over 16,700 individuals.

The magnificient Reading Museum, where Windrush stories are shared.

The community engagement funding is aimed at supporting activities and events to provide people with information about eligibility criteria, guidance on the application process, and to address any misunderstandings about what the schemes cover. 

In 1948 the British Parliament passed the British Nationality Act – This law gave British citizenship to any resident of a British colony or a Commonwealth state – It also gave the right to live in the United Kingdom.

The Commonwealth countries are nations that were once been colonies of the British Empire.

On June 22, 1948 the HMT Empire Windrush docked at a port on the Thames River near London, England with hundreds of young men and women from Jamaica and the Caribbean.

The HMT Empire Windrush ship

HMT Empire Windrush passenger ship and its passengers have a symbolic status as that was the beginning of Britain’s new generation, the Windrush Generation and the people of that generation are referred to as the Windrush generation because of the name of the first ship, the HMT Empire Windrush, which arrived in 1948 in London.

The young men and women came to Britain to better their lives as there were more jobs and opportunities than in their home countries.

Eligibility

While much of the Windrush Generation is made up of people from the Caribbean – hence its namesake being the ship that brought the first wave of British subjects to England from Jamaica in 1948 – the term also includes people from Commonwealth countries in Africa and Asia.

Therefore, people who came to the UK from a Commonwealth country before 1973 (or their offspring).

Those who came to the UK from any country before the end of 1988 may be eligible for compensation, if they have suffered losses.

These losses include losing a job, being denied access to services such as housing, benefits or free healthcare, experiencing problems travelling, being wrongly detained or deported and all those that have been negatively impacted by non-financial impacts such as anxiety and distress.

Background

On 21 June 1948, British troopship HMT Empire Windrush laid anchor at Tilbury Docks, with her passengers disembarking the following day.

The Empire Windrush carried hundreds of passengers from the Caribbean who, alongside people from other parts of the Commonwealth, came to the UK to fill post-war labour shortages. 

The ‘Windrush generation’ became the symbolic shorthand for people who came to work or join family in the UK between 1948 and 1973, particularly from Caribbean countries.

In 2018, the government announced a national Windrush Day would take place on 22 June each year to pay tribute to the Windrush generation and their descendants.

In the same year, the government established the Windrush Commemoration Committee, chaired by Baroness Benjamin (Liberal Democrat) and in 2021, the committee commissioned the sculptor Basil Watson to create the National Windrush Monument. 

New arrivals: The Windrush generation on arrival in London on June 22, 1948.

This was unveiled at London Waterloo Station on 22 June 2022.

The government also announced the establishment of the Windrush Day grant scheme in 2018 with an intention to fund projects to mark Windrush Day each year.

In 2018, at the same time the government was establishing national Windrush Day and the Windrush Day grant scheme, it was also putting in place measures intended to address the injustices suffered by people affected by the ‘Windrush scandal’.

The Windrush Compensation Scheme aims to address the hardships faced by the Windrush generation. If you suffered losses due to not having documents to prove your right to live in the UK, you may be eligible for compensation.

Local support

In Reading, further support and information are available from the following charities:

  • St Vincent and the Grenadies and Friends Association
    https://svgareading.org.uk/| email – infosvga@reading.org.uk  

People who need help accessing or using the internet may also be eligible for free assisted digital services from We Are Group by calling 0808 196 8496 or texting “Visa” to 07537 416 944.

The service is open on weekdays from 9.00am to 6.00pm.

Find out more at GOV.UK/WindrushHelpTeam or by calling the Windrush Help Team for free helpline at 0800 678 1925.

“It is very easy to apply, and help is available”

Raveena Hargun
Journalist and communications expert

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