THE BLOG
15/10/2018 09:24 BST | Updated 15/10/2018 17:45 BST

As A Windrush Victim, No Amount Of Compensation Can Make Up For 35 Years Of Lost Time

I never thought that I was anything other than British. How do you compensate me for missed opportunities with my kids? Or not being there for my dying mother?

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Arriving in London as a child in the 1960s, I was totally surprised by the size of the homes and how cold it was. It was strange to see people that were different in colour than what I had been accustomed to, but then I stopped giving it much thought.

When I was finally enrolled in school it was the happiest day my life. It was an opportunity to make new friends. At that time, the school had a large immigrant population, so I did not feel left out and the teachers were very friendly and made us feel welcome.

For my mum it was a different story, she was afraid of going out even to work because of the constant abuse that she suffered at the time. My mother was white-passing mixed-race, so she would be constantly looked at. She suffered verbal abuse from white people and then there were the physical attacks on people of colour, so it meant that she would no longer go out to the shops.

I would eat the scraps that she brought home from the kitchens that she serviced and we would wait until my brother would come home for us to go and buy food.

I can’t remember ever being scared although I did encounter bullying. But I had a different approach, I tackled it head on. I was not going to allow anyone to inject fear into me, and I was well-liked at school with a lot of friends who would stick up for me.

My school experiences were mixed, but mainly positive, on the other hand it tore me apart to see and hear my mother speak about what she had to face almost on a daily basis.

Living in West London in the 1960s was a mixture of different cultures, you had west Indians and the African diaspora as well, it was an extremely cosmopolitan mix.

I did not suffer from racism until I was in my teens, being called a n***** or a co** was met in my usual style of returning the compliment. I soon realised the best thing for me to do was not to try and mix but to stay with other people of colour. We would let our hair down at house parties - where I met the mother of two of my British-born children.

I never thought that I was anything other than British, yes different in colour but still British. No matter how many insults we suffered or people telling us to go back home, we still thought that we had a right to be in the UK.

I never could have imagined that decades later we could be treated in this way.

For the last 35 years, since an extended holiday to Trinidad, I’ve been locked out of the UK. My mother fell ill in 2003, and died later that year. Countless trips to the British Embassy and pleading with staff to allow me to return fell on deaf ears. Not being by her side during her illness and her subsequent passing has left me with a sense of guilt that no matter how hard I try it will not go away.

No amount of compensation can bring those moments back for me. How do you start to compensate someone for 35 years of lost opportunities?

Not being able to give comfort or to be there for my dying mother. How do you compensate me for missed opportunities with my kids, not being able to see them grow up. How much compensation will the state pay to eradicate the sense of abandonment that my kids have felt over the years?

I never thought that after arriving in the UK as a child that I would have to go through telephone interviews to see whether I still have strong ties to the UK.

I never thought that I would be fighting to retain my rights as a citizen of the UK. It feels to me like domestic abuse in its worst form - the Home Office trying to disenfranchise a whole group of people who have a legal right to be in the UK without any due process.

In my years in the UK, I cannot remember ever having spoken to a police officer, far less being charged for any form of criminality, I have never been arrested or held.

The UK’s rejection of us feels like we’ve been used and kicked to the curb.

Since being recognised as a victim of the Windrush scandal, my hopes have turned to despair. The mess was supposed to take two weeks to be resolved, yet here we are more than five months later. I feel totally betrayed.

The government has failed miserably to address the concerns of the victims in any meaningful way, some of us are still living in a state of total destitution with no access to housing, healthcare or jobs. My situation, although not as severe as others, still has left me feeling that I am a third-class citizen in a country that I grew up in and called home.

You cannot put a price on the suffering or hopelessness that I have endured over the years. On many occasions when you call the Windrush helpline you are met with civil servants who are not sympathetic, who cannot begin to understand the plight of the people they are supposed to be helping. I see no end to my suffering as a Windrush victim, I guess in that I am not alone, one can only pray that before the deaths of the Windrush generation something positive will happen and finally we will get justice.