Case Study: ‘Robbie’

Copy written for Citizens Advice — Windrush campaign

FULL LENGTH VERSION

Robbie arrived in England from the Caribbean in 1958 when he was four years old. Although his parents had new UK passports, Robbie remained an undocumented Barbados citizen all his life.

In 2012 Robbie’s employer asked for evidence of his right to work in the UK under the Home Office’s ‘hostile environment’ policy. This was a problem as Robbie had never owned any identification papers, so he set about getting some.

Robbie’s efforts quickly hit a dead end. His application for a passport but was refused because he couldn’t prove who he was. To solve this problem Robbie asked the home Office to reconsider his immigration status but he was turned down for the same reason.

After more than a decade working as a carer, Robbie was not only sacked from his job but also barred from accessing any public services. He was unable to get treatment for his medical condition, unable to get work and the DVLA even refused him a driving licence.

Robbie suffered from depression which, untreated, now began to spiral. Without an income the family home was soon lost. Robbie separated from his disabled wife and three children and, all too quickly, went from family breadwinner to homeless vagrant. “The whole thing was just so overwhelming,” says Robbie.

After spending time in prison, Robbie was released without support. Homeless again, he tried to claim Universal Credit but was refused because he wasn’t a UK citizen. Robbie was getting sick and his untreated depression was fast becoming a severe mental health issue.

After he was found a place in emergency accommodation, Robbie was referred to Citizens Advice by the Home Office under the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Robbie spoke to our adviser, Monica. “When I booked Robbie’s interview, he was so happy,” says Monica. “It showed on his face that this was the first time someone has listened and was willing to take up his case. “

Monica found that Robbie easily met the eligibility criteria for Windrush compensation as he’d lost everything despite having a lawful right to reside in the UK. “I felt uplifted,” says Robbie. “Like a ton of weight had finally been lifted from my shoulders.”

Monica assisted Robbie with his Windrush claim form, she prepared a covering letter for him, collated evidence and submitted everything on his behalf. She kept Robbie informed during every step of the process. “Monica was empathic, interested and helpful, she made it all much easier,” says Robbie.

The Home Office accepted Robbie’s Windrush compensation claim and made a preliminary award of £10,000 with more payments to follow. “I helped ensure that some of the wrong caused to client had been made right,” says Monica.

“Monica kept me fully updated,” says Robbie. She still checks in with me once a month — which is more than the Home Office really.”

Robbie now has all the rights of a UK citizen, the family are reunited and Robbie is looking forward to starting a new job. After suffering a decade of trauma, trapped and unable to prove his own identity, Robbie is still undergoing therapy but life is looking more positive.

“I’m really doing ok now,” says Robbie. “Everything that happened is coming to a close, I’m very happy.”

  • not his real name

CONDENSED VERSION

Without Robbie’s income the family home was soon lost. After separating from his wife and their three children, Robbie went from family breadwinner to living on the streets. Without access to the NHS to treat his depression, Robbie’s mental health began to spiral and he would remain homeless for years.

Eventually, Robbie was put in touch with our advisor, Monica. She found that he easily met the eligibility criteria for the Windrush Compensation Scheme. Monica assisted Robbie with forms, collating evidence and submitting documents on his behalf.

The Home Office accepted Robbie’s Windrush claim and made a preliminary award of £10,000 with more payments to follow. Robbie now has all the rights of a UK citizen and with the family reunited, Robbie is looking forward to starting a new job and even has a new flat. He’s now receiving treatment for his depression and life is looking far more positive.

“I’m really doing ok now,” says Robbie. “Everything that happened is coming to a close, I’m very happy.”

*not his real name

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Jules Powis

I’ve written for BBC radio, science podcasts and video journalism plus online content for a wide range of clients in both the commercial and public sector.