A family directly affected by the Windrush scandal believe their own campaign may have turned a corner - thanks to coverage in The Courier and Weekly News.
Gersham Elkanah Brown, his wife Iciline and their three children Freddie, Noel and Monica arrived in Leamington in 1964 as part of the Windrush generation.
But now Iciline, who has since moved back to and lived in Jamaica for several decades, is struggling to regain her status as a British citizen.
Her daughter Monica Brown, who lives in Warwick Gates, took to the case to the Government - but was told that her mother’s visa to return to the UK had been refused.
But this week she said: “The very day after the online publication of the Courier front page story, I received several calls from the British High Commission in Jamaica from an officer who wanted to discuss the Home Office’s decision to revoke the visa refusal. After meeting with my family team, we agreed on our position and decided that I would lead the follow up conversation. This second Home Official official I spoke with last Monday, was apologetic, respectful and he listened deeply.
“He took the time to explain some of the legal fog and the reasons for the Home Office’s initial refusal of our mother’s visa applications. The end result was that I pressed the Home Office to extend the initial offer of a six month visa to a two year visa and that is in process. Already couriers have collected our mother’s passport to have the visa processed in Miami.
“Lessons learned and reflections. The communication with and support of our local MP Matt Western was vital. We copied him into all our communication with Home Office officials. I was thoroughly prepared for the interviews with Home Office officials and was calm and strong throughout.
“We would like to thank neighbours and complete strangers who approached me on my walk in the community and wept at the flagrant injustice. My neighbourhood children who delivered the local paper, were in tears as they read the front page story in the newspaper they delivered. Complete strangers and others contacted me asking what they could do. I want to thank all those who read our story and supported us.
“I am clear however, that unless the government’s vows and promises are made into law, and Home Office case workers are trained to conduct interviews with respect and professionalism, there will be no justice for the Windrush generation. Compassion is optional.”
Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, said: “‘I am very pleased to have helped Monica and her siblings to secure a way for their mother to visit them and their families in the UK. However, I remain concerned by the disconnect between what Government ministers say in Parliament and the experience of people seeking justice. Other local people whose situations I have raised with the Home Office are still waiting for a resolution. Many others may have given up, beaten down by the ‘hostile environment’.
“I would encourage any of my constituents who are the descendants of the Windrush generation or those that came at a similar time from the Indian sub-continent to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or 01926882006 if they encounter any problems.
“I also want to thank the local media for their role in highlighting this story, which contributed to the outcome.”