Gloria, aged 59, travelled to the UK from Saint Kitts on her own passport when she was ten. Her mother had been working in the UK but died shortly after Gloria arrived, and her elder sister bought her up.
During this time social services were involved with the family because of their young ages and Gloria believes her passport was taken by them and not replaced. Before the immigration troubles Gloria worked as a case worker for people with learning difficulties and mental health issues. In her family she was the breadwinner and her husband looked after the kids following an accident that affected his ability to work.
Gloria’s Windrush experience started in 2011 when she tried to get a CRB check renewal for the company she had worked for a number of years. She failed the check as she did not have a passport which meant her losing her job. Gloria took the company to a tribunal but lost as the judge said the onus was on her to prove her status. Gloria contacted her MP who wrote to UK Visas and Immigration on her behalf to plead her case, and the Department for Work and Pensions wrote to the immigration department on her behalf, but to no avail. Her struggle to establish her identity took seven years.
When, following the publicity related to the scandal, she finally went to see the Taskforce, she was astounded that everything was resolved in an hour. She was not required to provide any additional documentation to obtain confirmation of her settled status.
Since losing her job and the tribunal case, and subsequently not being able to work, Gloria has visited her doctor on several occasions with stress related problems and depression. As she had a National Insurance number, she was able to claim unemployment benefits, but this meant a drastic reduction in her income.
Gloria has had to pawn rings to pay for items and had to accept financial help from her members of her family. Her daughter worked instead of going to university to help her parents pay their mortgage, and they nearly lost their house several times.
Today, Gloria mostly stays at home and watches TV. She says she smokes a lot more and has developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol during the years that her immigration status was in question.
Many kind thanks to Windrush National Organisation for allowing ARE to share Gloria’s story.
If you have been impacted by this story, and want to find out more about our Windrush Justice Programme, please contact Kimberly McIntosh, Programme and Grants Manager.