Windrush Compensation Scheme: Sheffield And District African Caribbean Community Association gives its verdict

The latest Windrush Compensation Scheme report might be no surprise to some people in Sheffield, but some may be ‘lucky’ to have avoided the scandal.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:53 pm

A report by the Home Affairs Committee - made up of cross party MPs - was published on November 24, and criticised the Government’s handling of the Windrush Compensation Scheme.

It concluded that the scheme has many flaws and is not fit for purpose, with only five percent of victims having received any compensation money.

Robert Cotterell, chair of Sheffield And District African Caribbean Community Association, said: “Nobody can be surprised. The Home Office doesn't do things by chance - it's been part of the programme for decades. People have been deported since the 1970s/1980s. We know that they have form for this.”

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Jamaican immigrants welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT 'Empire Windrush' landed them at Tilbury. Photo credit: PA Wire

The Government is said to have destroyed passenger landing cards some years ago - an action for which Robert believes permission must have been granted from figures in authority to happen.

He added: “We don’t know how many but they are very small numbers who have actually received compensation. There are significant numbers who won’t contact the Home Office too, for fear of being pulled in or shipped out.”

Robert explained that there may be only a handful of people in Sheffield who have been affected, as in the 1980s, Sadacca organised ‘naturalisation clinics’ which helped people to sort out their legal documentation.

He said: “We had good forward planning and thinking. It’s one of the best things Sadacca has done.”

Olivier Tsemo (l) and Robert Cotterell (r) pictured at Sadacca.

Robert believes that people may be ‘lucky’ in a sense, and those like his mother are now ‘quite safe in Sheffield’.

He told how the situation impacts an individual’s whole family. He believes money due should still go to the families of victims who have died who did not receive compensation in time.

Robert questions whether a scandal of this level would have occurred if it was another ethnic group.

He said: “It’s this hostile environment we live in - we’re still putting people through it. The Home Office has to think hard to redress. It’s still happening and so it continues.

“It’s a real shame that people are still treating people this way under the British flag and colonial rules. British people are British citizens.”

Chrissy Meleady MBE, CEO of Equalities and Human Rights, added: “Those exiled from their home here in the UK as part of the Government’s harsh environment policy and practice against the Windrush generation and their families were subjected to being cut off from family, friends and all they knew by the actions of the government.”

For the five percent who have been awarded compensation, Chrissy described it as ‘paltry and not commensurate with the suffering and loss they and their families were wrongfully put through’.

She added: “So far, very sadly, 23 people subjected to the Windrush scandal and it’s terrible abuses and harms have passed away, without receiving compensation.

“The Windrush generation and their families have not at all properly gained from the Windrush Compensation scheme nor the Windrush Lessons Learned recommendations due to failings in their implementation.

“It is hoped that now with this review and its resultant report things will at last become fair and that proper progress, redress and restitution will be made.”

The report can be found here.