The Independent

Windrush victim 'locked out" of Britain for years says he's now homeless

The Independent logo The Independent 27.05.2023 12:02:17 Nadine White

A victim of the Windrush scandal who spent years fighting for a UK passport after being "locked out" of Britain says he is now homeless after being denied help by the Home Office, The Independent can reveal.

Delroy Foster, who came from Jamaica to Britain as a baby with his parents in 1960 before moving to the US, says he was denied entry in 2018 and spent five years trying to get passport.

Now back in the UK with the correct documents, he claims the Home Office team set up to help Windrush victims is not providing support and is sleeping on a friend's sofa while trying to get back on his feet.

The 63-year-old former building contractor says he is unable to get a job to support himself while he has nowhere to live.

"I have always felt British and the way that I've been treated by the Home Office is appalling," he told The Independent. "I was expecting assistance from them such as being supported with somewhere to stay, at least, because I am a British citizen and this is my right."

His case has been backed by Labour MP Dawn Butler, who also chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Jamaica, who said: "It is disheartening to continue to hear of situations where those wronged by the Windrush scandal are still suffering. 

"It is clear that the process needs to be taken out of the hands of the Home Office and given to an independent body, so that there can be swift resolutions to these cases."

Born in Jamaica, Mr Foster grew up in the UK after coming as part of the Windrush generation in 1960. His father Clovis worked in construction and decorating when the family settled in south London, while his mother, Gwendolyn, worked as a cleaner and in factories while raising six children.

"My parents came to this country from Jamaica back in the day and helped to rebuild it after the war which instils in me a sense of pride," he said. "My father, in particular, went through hell and high water trying to rebuild the UK in the 60s."

Mr Foster spent much of his adult life in the US and Canada, and sought to return to the UK in 2018, but says he was wrongly denied entry and told he was not a British citizen, so he moved back to Jamaica.

Last year, a Windrush campaigner took up his case and he was eventually granted the right of abode.

Upon arriving in the UK in October 2022, Mr Foster was placed temporarily in a Travel Lodge by the Home Office's Vulnerable Person's Team (VPT) after describing spending nights sleeping rough and riding the bus to keep warm.

After an emergency trip to family in Jamaica in February of this year, Mr Foster returned to the UK but says the VPT told him they could not help with accommodation.

Despite being granted his British passport in April, he says he has received no further support from the VPT and has applied for Windrush compensation.

"They treated me actually terribly. Like an outsider; I was locked out for years," he said. "And then, when I returned, the Home Office told me that they weren't going to do anything for me. I was all on my own."

The VPT's own guidance states that it supports returning Windrush residents with "travel arrangements and accommodation."

It adds: "The Windrush Help Team also has a dedicated Vulnerable Persons Team (VPT), who are on hand to provide help and advice where safeguarding and vulnerability issues are identified.

"The support they offer includes helping individuals to return to the UK, including travel arrangements and accommodation, where other support isn't available to them. The VPT also administer the policy on support in urgent and exceptional circumstances and may provide financial support to those that need this."

Mr Foster says the VPT got back in touch with him after The Independent raised his case, but his situation has not improved. His case comes amid ongoing calls for the Home Office to be stripped of the administration of the Windrush compensation scheme.

The Home Office said it was in contact with Mr Foster and is supporting him through his accommodation application to allow him to be housed: "The whole of government is committed to righting the wrongs of Windrush.

"Already we have paid or offered more than £70.67 million in compensation to those affected, but we know there is more to do, and we continue to reach out to communities so that everyone who may be eligible for the scheme has the support they need to apply.

"We continue to work tirelessly to make sure such an injustice is never repeated and that government is worthy of the communities it serves."

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samedi 27 mai 2023 15:02:17 Categories: The Independent

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