Windrush Day 2020: Singer/Songwriter Crystxl King shares her father's story

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As both of my parents have lived in London their whole lives it never crossed our minds that the Windrush scandal would sweep in and impact us and so many other families of Caribbean decent, as sporadically and cruelly as it did. You could never have seen it coming.

My mother was born and raised in London. My grandparents (her parents) came over to the UK from Dominica back in 1959 to live, work and start a family in England. 

So why did the Windrush generation come to the UK? In a nutshell, they were needed and quite openly invited! During this period people from the Caribbean were being invited over to post-war Britain to work and help re-build it, due to post-war labour shortages. They are known as the Windrush Generation.  

Inspired by the popular notion that the streets of London were 'paved with gold' and that they would be accepted with open arms to be able to work and live as British subjects, settle and build a family and a new life in the UK, many people from the Caribbean up-rooted, left their homes and families behind and travelled to the UK to become an integral part of British society. 

As many places within the Caribbean were, at the time, a part of the British Commonwealth, those who arrived were automatically to be deemed as British subjects and free to permanently live and work in the UK.

My father came over to London when he was just 14 years old to join his mother, father, brothers and sisters, all of whom were already living in London at the time. He had been left in St Lucia a little longer than the others and then was picked up and brought over to London some years later as a young boy.

My father lived his life just like any other, studying and working in the UK, paying his taxes, socialising and integrating into a society and country that was now well and truly home to him and all others who took the same journey.

Early last year, at the age of 57, some 43 years after his initial arrival in the UK my dad suddenly and unexpectedly received a letter from the Government. With immediate effect his Citizenship was under question and he was being asked to prove his right to be in the UK, meaning the threat of removal of a list of things including his housing, bank accounts and healthcare and the threat of immediate deportation back to a country that at this point held no close family, familiarity or even a place to stay to go back to. We were all at a loss for words with no idea of what to do and no support or backing to assist us with the journey that was to come.

What followed can only be described as a never ending, tedious and down right sickening battle to keep my father in the UK. With a long running battle with a mental health condition, this was a journey that my father would not have been able to take alone and one that he unquestionably would have lost had he not had the support of his closest family members and family friends who came forward to do what was possible.

We were faced with a purposely created, cruel and emotionally draining uphill battle to dig up and retrieve years and years of documentation and records, some of which was later to revealed to have already been destroyed from record by the Government under Theresa May, to try and prove that my dad had indeed lived, been educated and worked in Britain since his early teens.  

Naturally, a lot of the documentation was hard, almost impossible to get hold of!  Who at nearly 60 years of age, after travelling, working, building a family and moving house several times over 40 years still has the original passport that they used when they were 14 years old? I can assure you that at 34 I have lost all my previous passports and only have the one I use today! Yet my father was being asked to produce this childhood passport. He was asked if myself and my brother were his children and if he could 'prove it'. He was asked for his doctors records, his medical history to be printed out, an original copy of his birth certificate from St Lucia (no copies allowed), his original tenancy agreements from every place he had lived over 40+ years. I mean, who keeps this stuff with the idea that they will need it one day when the deportation agents of the Government come-a-knocking? Nobody, we were all hoping for the best and devastated by thoughts of the worst.

After a distressing battle which lasted well over a year with literally thousands spent, back and forth trips to solicitors, countless rejections of whatever materials we could find and order from various housing offices, birth registration centres and similar organisations that we had to make endless calls to and literally chase with everything that we had in us, character references and letters from family, friends and local professionals confirming that they knew my dad and that he had been living in the UK here since his teens, literal dig-ups of photos showcasing my dad's life which were hard to find as he never liked taking pictures and many other forms of evidence, we finally got confirmation that they were 'satisfied' that my father had submitted enough evidence of his life and existence in the UK to be able to stay with us and be deemed a 'British Citizen' - which he had always been deemed since his arrival all those years ago. 

No apology was made, no explanation was given. Promises of compensation were made. My father received nothing. 

In the article 'The Windrush Scandal Explained' by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, it was reported that the Windrush Scandal is far from over stating: "...For those who have been affected by the Windrush scandal, justice has still not been done. There is a huge backlog of cases still to be resolved".  The article also notes that a "review was finally published on 19 March 2020 - nearly two years since the scandal hit the headlines. The review makes absolutely clear that the Windrush scandal was not an accident, but the inevitable result of policies designed to make life impossible for those without the right papers" 

Hear Crystxl King's song 'Tried To Take My Daddy' here

 Visit London Borough of Newham Website to see more Windrush Stories

Article Written by Crystal Emmanuel 

Windrush Day 2020: Singer/Songwriter Crystxl King shares her father's story Windrush Day 2020: Singer/Songwriter Crystxl King shares her father's story Reviewed by Crystal Emmanuel on 18:55 Rating: 5

4 comments:

  1. Wow your story has infuriated me. How can people do this to us.

    Your delivery was amazing your voice has so much soul

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    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment, I appreciate you and I am happy to hear that you liked the piece ❤️���� Crystxl King x

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  2. I'm glad your got everything sorted although I am triggered every time I hear these stories. Thanks for sharing your story, and the song is great too!

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    1. Thank you for checking this out and taking the time to comment! Yes I have heard and seen a lot lately that can really trigger us all! So long as we are triggered to take positive action, we can turn some of these negatives into positives for future generations to come x

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