A compensation scheme for members of the Windrush Generation, who were wrongly classified by the Government as illegal immigrants, has been dubbed an 'absolute disaster'.
Thousands of people came to the UK from the Caribbean post World War Two. Many people came in answer to advertisements placed by the British authorities, calling for Commonwealth workers to travel to the UK to help rebuild the country. In the intervening decades many of those immigrants and their families settled down here.
The Immigration Act of 171 came into force in 1973, giving Commonwealth immigrants who were already living in the UK indefinite leave to stay. However many of those people and their children were not issued with documentation proving this status, and the Home Office did not keep records confirming these residents' right to be in the UK.
In recent years immigration policies have been reformed, with paperwork becoming more important. The newer, tighter regulations meant that all migrants had to have documentation to prove that they had a right to live and work in the UK; and that they were eligible to access services such as healthcare or benefits.
The Windrush Compensation Scheme was created after it was revealed that some men and women of the Windrush Generation who could not prove their right to be in the UK, had been wrongly deported or denied jobs and healthcare. Those affected were promised compensation.
Campaigners in Hampshire say that legal advice is needed to complete a complex forty-four page application form. A meeting is due to take place on Friday 12th April at the West Itchen Community Centre between 11.30am and 12.30pm to offer advice and help with claims.
However, the Home Office has been accused of carrying out a 'tick box exercise' after people in Southampton were given just four days notice of the meeting.
The Home Office has said that the Home Secretary is committed to righting the wrongs of the Windrush Generation and that the Windrush compensation scheme is a key part of that. The government department said that it has been working closely with a range of local community groups, the local authority and the venue in Southampton to promote the event.
In her report below, Kerry Swain spoke to Beverley Dowdell, from the Black Heritage Southampton Association; and Don John, a Race & Diversity Consultant.