The Windrush case that started it all……
“In October, I was contacted by a small refugee charity, the Refugee and Migrant Centre, in Wolverhampton. I was really worried because its client Paulette Wilson, 61, a former chef who had worked in the House of Commons, had been detained pending imminent deportation…..see more” – Amelia Gentleman, The Guardian, Friday 20 April 2018.
The experience of being detained and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, a country she has not been to for 50 years has been profoundly upsetting for Paulette, a grandmother and former cook, who has paid national insurance contributions for 34 years and can prove a long history of working and paying taxes in this country.
Paulette, 61, arrived in the UK in 1968, went to primary and secondary school in Britain, raised her daughter, here and has helped to bring up her granddaughter. For a while, she worked in the House of Commons restaurant overlooking the Thames, serving meals to MPs and parliamentary security staff. More recently, she has volunteered at her local church, making weekly meals for homeless people. Yet after having closed her bank account, stopped her benefit and hard earned pension and thrown Paulette out of her flat, the Home Office also detained her for a week….. the full story can be read here.
Gladstone Wilson 62, arrived in Britain in 1968, aged 12, to join his parents who were already here. His father was working as a head teacher in a primary school. He himself had worked for a long time as a security guard, latterly for a hospital in Wolverhampton.
Gladstone first came to RMCs Wolverhampton Office in August 2011 as he needed assistance to prove his status. Gladstone was stopped from working and his security guard licence was revoked. He was also sent a text by Capita, the Home Office’s immigration enforcement contractor, saying he needed to leave the country as soon as possible.
“The main pain was when I couldn’t go to my mum’s funeral. That was devastating, like going to hell and back”.
Unfortunately, he lost his first passport that he arrived on, and was unable to prove he had a right to be here and as a result was unable to travel to his mother’s funeral in 2014. Gladstone had to report to Solihull Immigration Centre regularly or face prosecution, this made him angry and he felt like a criminal.
In late 2016, with Gladstone still unsure of his status, our solicitor, Jim, was able to make some movement in the case and he was issued with papers that changed his status to “settled”.
“I want them to understand all the suffering I’ve been through. Every night I grieve over this. I can’t forget. It’s terrible the way I’ve been treated. There are not enough words to say how much I appreciate all the help from RMC”
In 2014, a routine request from his final employers to update paperwork revealed that Renford didn’t have a passport and had never naturalised in the UK. Renford was sacked. Unable to find new work without papers, he became depressed, and then homeless. Dudley Council said he was not eligible for emergency housing because he had no right to be in the country. Similarly, he has been told he cannot sign on for benefits.
Renford gathered together paperwork showing 35 years of National Insurance contributions, with the support of the RMC, but the Home Office has returned the application, requesting further evidence.
“It makes me so angry. I’ve always worked. I’m a grafter. I can’t explain how bad it makes me feel”.
See the full story here.
Margaret O’Brien, 69, moved from Canada to Wolverhampton in 1971. She got married, had three children and worked for the local council for more than 25 years as a dinner lady, meals on wheels driver, lollipop lady, and cleaner.
A spinal injury a few years ago meant she had to give up her job, leading her to apply for benefits for the first time. In 2015, she was told her disability payments had been suspended because she was an illegal immigrant.
Margaret received a letter stating: “Home Office records indicate that you do not have permission to be in the UK. You should make arrangements to leave without delay.”
The letter informed her “of our intention to remove you from the UK to your country of nationality if you do not depart voluntarily. No further notice will be given”.
She was puzzled by the Home Office’s decision to target her.
“I did feel British. When I came to England, Canada was part of the Commonwealth. It was so simple. I went to the jobcentre, was issued with a national insurance and got a job. I was always in work”.
Her case worker at the RMC, Daniel, helped her to find an indefinite leave to remain stamp in her expired Canadian passport that instantly proved she was in the UK legally. She had never noticed it, or realised its significance, and was profoundly grateful for his help.
See Margarets story here.