by CAROLINE NOKES
COMMONWEALTH citizens, who have made a life here, have made a huge contribution to our society.
They answered Britain’s desperate labour shortage after the war and helped to rebuild our country. They have worked, paid taxes and have added to the diverse culture we are so proud of in the United Kingdom.
But in the past few years, many of these people have struggled to prove their status in the UK and have experienced serious hardship as a result. The wrongs these people have faced are shocking and a great injustice.
Over the past few months, I’ve spoken to people who have been affected, along with their families and friends. The stories I’ve heard have been heart-breaking. Individuals who have been in this country for decades were left to struggle and navigate an immigration system in a way they never should have been asked to do.
That is why, as immigration minister, I am determined to do all that I can to put these wrongs right. And I want to reach out to anyone, from any nationality, who is struggling to secure the documents they need to prove their right to be here.
We have already put in place a series of measures. We set up a taskforce which, over the past few months, has taken thousands of calls and we set up a Windrush scheme, through which over 330 nationals from Asian countries such as India and Pakistan have confirmed their status in the UK.
Importantly, we are also in the process of setting up a compensation scheme to make sure that people who have been affected are properly reimbursed. Martin Forde QC, the son of Windrush parents, has been independently overseeing the compensation scheme.
To make sure that the compensation scheme works for the people it is designed for, we ran a number of roadshows across the country. I was able to attend one of these events in Brixton in November, where I met people who were impacted. We often associate the ‘Windrush generation’ with those of Caribbean origin. I left that afternoon more determined than ever to help every single person, of any nationality, who might have suffered, and I want to be clear that this help does not stop at those who are from the Caribbean.
While it is true that the majority of those who have been helped by our taskforce are of Caribbean origin, we have always been clear that we will accept applications under the Windrush scheme from people of any nationality who arrived in the UK before December 31, 1988, and are settled here.
We want to make sure that every community in Britain, including the Asian community, is aware of the support that we have on offer.
Anyone who settled in the UK before December 31, 1988, who has built a life here in Britain, has contributed to our economy and society, must be confident of their status and value to the country.