Preston Windrush victim says government 'dragging their feet' with help for those affected

A Caribbean man who came to Britain after the Second World War says the government is 'dragging their feet' to compensate those caught up in the Windrush Scandal.

2022 marks the 74th anniversary since the first wave of people arrived on the Empire Windrush’s 1948 at Tilbury Docks, in London.

Sylius Toussaint, who is 82, arrived in Preston from Domanica as a British citizen in 1960.

He was one of an estimated half a million people who made the 8,000 mile journey from Caribbean Islands, encouraged to the UK to help rebuild a Britain battered by war.

Sylius came to the UK with a British passport in 1960.

He said he was inspired to travel to the UK because of a poster on his grandmother's wall, which said 'Britain today, is the land of opportunity for youth'.

Sylius said: "The pictures I had of England was nothing like what it was in reality."

After building a life in the Uk, the British Government changed the rules on who was british, which meant that Sylius and his wife had to pay to reapply to be British.

The 82-year-old, who has nine children, said: "My father and mother were British, I was born British, I came here with a British passport - how could I suddenly not be British?"

"Whatever way you look at it, it is just hurtful - it's immoral."

An estimated half a million people arrived in the UK from Caribbean Islands over a 23-year period.

What was the Windrush Scandal?

The scandal erupted in 2018 when British citizens, mostly from the Caribbean, were wrongly detained, deported or threatened with deportation.

Many lost homes and jobs, and were denied access to healthcare and benefits despite living and working in the UK for decades and previously being British citizens.

Adult Windrush migrants that came to the UK from the late 1950s to early late 1960s came to the country on British Passports as British Citizens.

The 1971 Immigration Act confirmed that the Windrush generation had, and have, the right to live in the UK.

But many of them came on passports that were never renewed, or on their parent's passports but never got passports of their own.

The Home Office did not keep a record of those who entered the country at that time.

The former British troopship 'Empire Windrush'. Credit: PA images

Since April 2019, only 7% of Windrush survivors have been compensated for the hardships and discrimination they unlawfully suffered.

Sylias was one of the lucky ones but he says help from the British government is not coming fast enough - and more should be done.

He said: "These people are in their 80s and 90s - they are dying and they are suffering and the government is dragging its feet.

"It's about time the government paid compensation and be the Great Britain we were brought up to believe to be proud of."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The mistreatment of the Windrush Generation by successive governments was completely unacceptable and the Home Secretary will right those wrongs."

They also went on to say, the Windrush Compensation scheme "has paid out more than £40m to over 1,000 people."

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