On 6th July 2018, the High Commission of Antigua and Barbuda organised a meeting with officials from the United Kingdom Home Office Windrush Task Force and members of the Antigua and Barbuda diaspora in the United Kingdom directly affected or concerned by the ongoing Windrush matter. Four officials from the Task Force were present and met with High Commissioner and nationals of Antigua and Barbuda to answer general questions and to hold one on one consultations as needed.
The meeting began with an open discussion where the affected Nationals were invited to explain how they have been negatively affected and what are their current and future concerns. The representatives from the Home Office then addressed the questions put to them and outlined programmes put in place to support affected persons and to restore confidence in the Home Office within the affected Caribbean communities in the United Kingdom. The Home Office team apologised on behalf of the Government of the United Kingdom for the actions of their department which caused persons to suffer and acknowledged that this has caused many persons of Caribbean descent to be uncertain of their status and future within the United Kingdom.
High Commissioner Hill expressed satisfaction with the openness of the discussions and the steps taken by the Home Office to date to rectify the errors. These include the establishment of the Windrush Task Force itself, a dedicated free phone number for persons to engage with the Task Force without fear of recrimination, waiver of normal application and legal fees, advances on developing a compensation scheme for victims, and special arrangements for the Task Force to engage with persons who have mental or physical disabilities. The Task Force also shared that persons in the Caribbean who have queries can be contacted by a representative of the Task Force with the cost of the call covered by the Task Force.
The meeting ended with the Task force representatives meeting with affected persons to offer individual advice. The Nationals who attended expressed satisfaction with the meeting and the Task Force team reiterated their commitment to resolving issues in a timely and courteous manner.
The High Commission has requested that a similar event be held in Leicester where the second largest Antigua and Barbuda population outside of London reside. The High Commission has also secured a commitment from the Home Office to engage with persons currently residing in Antigua and Barbuda who might be affected by the anti-immigration practices or have questions about their status.
The High Commission further urges persons in the United Kingdom or currently in Antigua and Barbuda who in any way feel that their rights have been violated to contact the Windrush Help Line on freephone: 0800 678 1925, and visit the Home Office website at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/undocumented-commonwealth-citizens-resident-in-the-uk. Persons may also choose to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in St. John’s or the High Commission in London directly.