Vigil Commemorates Anniversary of Windrush Scandal Revelation

Vigil Commemorates Anniversary of Windrush Scandal Revelation

London Descendants honour Windrush generation’s resilience at a vigil marking scandal’s anniversary. Despite compensation challenges, campaigners unite for justice, demanding governmental accountability and support.

The efforts faced by the Windrush generation “must never be in vain”, descendants expressed as they held a candlelit ceremony to honour the sixth anniversary since the scandal was revealed. More than 50 people, including campaigners and spiritual leaders, assembled in Windrush Square in Brixton on Saturday afternoon.

According to The Standard, candles were torched and speeches and prayers were read to recall those who had passed away and to thank those who persisted in the campaign. Bishop Doctor Desmond Jaddoo, the head of the Windrush National Organisation, told the Media that the sacrifices and donations made by the Windrush generation must never be overlooked. “We must never forget what happened. We are on the road to justice. The thing about it is that we settle for second best and this time that must not be allowed to happen,” he stated.

“This isn’t just about those who have suffered. This is about ensuring that future generations don’t go through anything like this again. In addition to that, some 50-plus people have lost their lives, they’ve not made it through the journey. Their losses must never be in vain.”

What is the Scandal & Who is the Windrush Generation?

The scandal first acquired widespread public engagement in 2018, with the Government facing a furious backlash over the treatment of the Windrush generation – called after a ship that carried migrants to Britain from the Caribbean in 1948.

Commonwealth citizens who reached the UK before 1973 were automatically given indefinite leave to remain. But some were later questioned over their immigration status and restricted access to healthcare and benefits, unlawfully imprisoned and even deported, despite living in the UK legally for decades. According to the National Archives, which carries the ship’s passenger index, there were 1,027 people on board. More than 800 shared their last country of living as somewhere in the Caribbean.

The Government pledged to right the wrongs of what had occurred but the compensation scheme, launched in April 2019, has been repeatedly slammed for the speed at which claims are being processed and payments made.

Do the Windrush People Still Exist in the UK?

It is ambiguous how many people from the Windrush generation live in the UK, but the number is considered to be in the thousands. They are among more than 500,000 UK citizens who were born in a Commonwealth nation and arrived before 1971, according to University of Oxford calculations.

Windrush Compensation Scheme: How does it work?

The Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched in April 2019. About 15,000 people were thought to be qualified. However, the scheme has been always criticised for processing delays, low offers, and unjust rejections reversed on appeal. In 2021, the Home Affairs Committee of MPs discovered the scheme had itself become a further trauma for those qualified. It expressed many of those concerned were “still too fearful of the Home Office to apply”.

In April 2023, Human Rights Watch expressed the scheme was “failing” victims and reiterated calls for it to be removed from the Home Office’s control. In reaction, the Home Office said it was “determined to right the wrongs of Windrush”, and that the project had paid or offered more than £68m in payment to the people affected. The government pressed it would ensure “similar injustices can never be reprised and [was] creating a Home Office worthy of every community it serves”.

Professor Patrick Vernon, a Windrush campaigner, told the PA news agency “the community does not trust the Home Office” and called for the compensation scheme to be “completely revamped”.

“The community does not trust the Home Office. It is the same directorate which runs the compensation scheme that also deals with deportation flights and detention centres,” he said.

“So, it doesn’t feel like there’s any kind of neutrality. The Government talks about righting the wrongs, so I think it is only fair and reasonable for there to be a degree of independence.”

Prof Vernon said there needs to be more public awareness of the “human tragedy” of the scandal. He said victims and their descendants suffered “personal stress, depression, and anxiety” as a result of the scandal and at least 53 people had died before receiving compensation.

An Age UK report released in February found that a number of areas of the compensation scheme had failed those affected. It said that by the end of 2023, only 1,993 individuals had been offered compensation, fewer than one in seven (13%) of all whom the Home Office estimated to be eligible.

The charity has called for an independent body to take over the running of the compensation scheme.

Jacqueline McKenzie, a human rights lawyer at Leigh Day Solicitors, works with clients affected by the scandal and the compensation process. “I’m working with between 200 and 300, if you include family members, on compensation,” she told the PA news agency.

People have lost jobs, they lost their houses, they lost their businesses. Not many, but some people were denied access to medical care.

“One of the saddest things for me are the descendants of those affected who lost out on university places because you know how life-changing that can be, and we come across so many people who lost out on higher education opportunities.

“We see a myriad of people cutting across all social strata and from various communities. There isn’t just one narrative about the Windrush scandal.”

Speeches, poems and prayers were read by campaigners and church figures. It marked the first time that activist organisations and religious groups have come together to commemorate the Windrush generation and to campaign for justice with the same message.

Bishop Jaddoo said it was important the two groups were “on the same page” to “take the agenda forward”.

He said: “Today is a very special day because today is the coming together of the clergy and the campaigners on a united stage.

“Importantly, we are now going to be on the same page, so when the clergy talks to the Government, they are going to be doing so with the same message as the campaigners, a shared message.

“That tells you now the gravitas of who is here today, not just to remember but also to take the agenda forward.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Government is committed to righting the wrongs of the Windrush scandal and making sure those affected receive the compensation they rightly deserve.

“We have paid more than £80 million in compensation and over 82% of claims have received a final decision.

“We continue to make improvements so people receive the maximum award as quickly as possible, whilst providing extensive support to help people access and apply to the compensation scheme.”

Daniele Naddei

Daniele Naddei is a journalist at Parliament News covering European affairs, was born in Naples on April 8, 1991. He also serves as the Director of the CentroSud24 newspaper. During the period from 2010 to 2013, Naddei completed an internship at the esteemed local radio station Radio Club 91. Subsequently, he became the author of a weekly magazine published by the Italian Volleyball Federation of Campania (FIPAV Campania), which led to his registration in the professional order of Journalists of Campania in early 2014, listed under publicists. From 2013 to 2018, he worked as a freelance photojournalist and cameraman for external services for Rai and various local entities, including TeleCapri, CapriEvent, and TLA. Additionally, between 2014 and 2017, Naddei collaborated full-time with various newspapers in Campania, both in print and online. During this period, he also resumed his role as Editor-in-Chief at Radio Club 91.
Naddei is actively involved as a press officer for several companies and is responsible for editing cultural and social events in the city through his association with the Medea Fattoria Sociale. This experience continued until 2021. Throughout these years, he hosted or collaborated on football sports programs for various local broadcasters, including TLA, TvLuna, TeleCapri, Radio Stonata, Radio Amore, and Radio Antenna Uno.
From 2016 to 2018, Naddei was employed as an editor at newspapers of national interest within the circuit, including Internazionale24, Salute24, and OggiScuola. Since 2019, Naddei has been one of the creators of the Rabona television program "Calcio è Passione," which has been broadcast on TeleCapri Sport since 2023.