The 'Windrush Defenders' are a group of law students and community activists who organised free surgeries to help those who had been affected by the 'Windrush Scandal' to complete applications to rectify their status or claim compensation for any difficulties they had suffered as a result of not having the necessary documentation to prove their status. Anthony Brown LLB facilitated a workshop with our active community elders.
"In the first session I took the approach of informing the elders of how the Immigration laws had been changed since the 1948 British Nationality Act which declared people of the Caribbean and other Commonwealth countries to be Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies. From the Immigration Act 1962 restrictions began to placed on rights to come to Britain and changes to who could apply to be British Citizens with the British Nationality Act 1981. Although there had been a 'hostile environment' since the arrival of the Windrush in 1948 the Immigration Act 2014 intensified the difficulties because it required everyone to prove their status before they could access employment, housing, the NHS, have a bank account, drivers license, benefits or return to the UK after travelling abroad. Because many had not registered themselves as British Citizens they and their children could be affected, even unto the third and fourth generation.
Realising that a number of the elders were people who I had grown up with in church I used the example of St Paul in Acts 22:25 to bring home the importance of British Citizenship as a protection for citizens against mistreatment. The session became an exchange and discussion as the elders recognized the parallel of the mistreatment of the undocumented 'Windrush Generation' and their descendants with what could have happened to St Paul. All committed to speak to their children and grandchildren to ensure they were properly documented. Two people had further appointments to check their status.