Windrush scandal victims in Hackney are being urged to contact the local authority after only 10 people turned up to a council-run session about compensation on Monday.
Carole Williams, a cabinet member for Employment, Skills and Human Resources at Hackney Council, spoke out at the advice session that took place at Hackney museum. She said: ’’There should be way more people in this room ”
The scheme which launched in July 2019, is meant to restore damages to the victims caused by years of unemployment, loss of housing and benefits as well as impacts on health, education, detention or deportation.
It is open to all Commonwealth citizens who were wrongly affected by the Hostile Environment policy which saw them treated as illegal immigrants.
But only around 1,100 have applied for the scheme and only 36 people have received compensation thus far.
Meg Hillier, the MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, who was at the meeting, said: “More than 160,000 people of the commonwealth people eligible for compensation still don’t know about the scheme due to lack of advertisement from the Home Office.
“Even though a cross-party request for a nationwide campaign has been made by MPs’’
The scheme itself was also questioned during the meeting.
Martin Forde QC, lawyer and independent adviser on the design of the scheme, told the meeting he found it so frustrating he had even threatened to quit his role twice since starting.
He said: “I was afraid of being a poster figure,” adding that he did not feel like he was being listened to by the Home office
Glenda Ceasar, a Windrush scandal victim from Hackney was present at the meeting.
Caesar was offered £22,000 for 10 years of unemployment, loss of benefits and depression when she was labeled as an illegal immigrant when she had lived in England for 60 years.
She said: “I was living off my disabled daughter’s benefits for years, £22,00 doesn’t even cover the debts.”
Ceasar is set to receive more compensation thanks to the work of Corde and organisations such as Citizen Advice.
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and Williams have written to Priti Patel, the current Home Secretary regarding the absence of a nationwide campaign regarding this scheme.
They said of the event: “We have not invited the Home Office or any press because we want this to be a safe place’.’
If you, a relative or someone you know have been affected by the Windrush scandal or the Hostile Environment policy contact Your local council or Citizen Advice.