Assist with compensation claims
A trio of London university law clinics have teamed up with local law centres and community groups to launch a free legal advice hub for victims of the Windrush scandal.
The Windrush Justice Clinic, a collaborative partnership featuring law students from Westminster, Greenwich and London South Bank universities, offers pro bono legal support to those seeking to make claims under the Windrush Compensation Scheme (WCS).
The Windrush scandal hit headlines in 2018 after it emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were invited to the UK between 1948 and 1970 from Caribbean countries, had been wrongly detained, denied legal rights, threatened with deportation, and, in some cases, wrongly deported from the UK by the Home Office.
The WCS was launched in April 2019 to provide victims with compensation for their loss of employment, benefits and other forms of hardship. By the end of September, 1,531 people applied under the scheme, however just 168 people had received compensation during the first 18 months of its operation. This, the clinic says, is down to the “extensive and complex documentary evidence, often going back decades”, that applicants must provide in order to make a successful claim.
The student volunteers — who receive guidance and support from qualified solicitors and barristers — will offer initial assistance to the clinic’s clients as well as determine what level of help they require. Where specialist immigration advice or legal representation is needed, the clinic can refer clients to a specialist within their network.
Other organisations to lend support are North Kensington Law Centre, Southwark Law Centre, Claudia Jones Organisation, The Windrush Compensation Project and The Jigsaw House Society.
Anna Steiner, senior lecturer at the University of Westminster and Windrush Project Leader, commented: “The Windrush Justice Clinic has been set up by a group of lawyers, community workers and university lecturers who feel very strongly about the injustices suffered by victims of the Windrush scandal. The model is innovative and collaborative with student law clinics playing an important role in providing free and independent access to justice in partnership with law centres and community groups.”
She continued: “We believe that by working in this way we will be able to assist a large number of the Windrush generation and their families who have been affected by this scandal. Whilst we recognise that money cannot make up for the appalling way in which people have been treated, we are committed to assisting those affected to get the compensation they deserve.”