As the UK marks Windrush Day on 22 June, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s London lawyers continue to support a programme run by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (“GMIAU”), which helps survivors experiencing barriers accessing compensation.
In 2018, news of the Windrush scandal broke. Commonwealth citizens who had been in the UK for decades were facing major problems as they were unable to prove their right to be in the UK. Despite their lawful residence and as a result of the government’s increasing insistence on immigration checks in every aspect of life – known as the Hostile Environment – people were denied access to key services. Many lost their jobs, housing, access to benefits and people were even wrongly detained and deported. Lives were ruined.
Around £40 million has been reportedly paid to 1037 of the 3878 Windrush generation applicants. The Home Office estimated that around 15,000 were due compensation. Recent reports on the scheme by the Home Affairs Select Committee, JUSTICE and the Windrush Justice Clinic all concluded that the lack of government funded legal advice was a barrier to claimants bringing claims.
In April 2021, Debevoise announced the launch of the Windrush Legal Initiative, which was a collaboration with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (“JCWI”) and seven other leading law firms: Taylor Wessing, Latham & Watkins, Charles Russell Speechlys, Dechert, Linklaters, BCLP and White & Case.
Volunteer lawyers and advisers involved in the initiative help survivors of the Windrush generation who were unlawfully detained or deported and denied legal rights with claims for compensation.
In January 2022, the Windrush Legal Initiative transferred from JCWI to GMIAU. Over the last year it has assisted 29 people with their claims.
Over the coming year the programme aims to support more Windrush survivors. GMIAU have recently been awarded funding from the Access to Justice Foundation to provide outreach sessions to ensure work is targeted to those who most need it.
Conway Blake, international counsel at Debevoise, comments: “I am tremendously proud of the work that we at Debevoise have been able to do on the Windrush compensation initiative. Our lawyers have dedicated significant time and tireless effort to ensure that those affected by this unfortunate episode in our nation’s history are able to obtain just redress.”
Survivors of the Windrush generation can contact Nicola Burgess at GMIAU (firstname.lastname@example.org) to access further information and for legal support.