Defending the Windrush generation: Patrick Vernon's story
Published: 30 Jun 2020
Equality campaigner Patrick Vernon OBE won the Sheila McKechnie Foundation Long Term Achievement award in 2019 for his work on race equality. This is the latest in a series of achievements on behalf of the black community, particularly the Windrush generation.
"After 18 months fighting for recognition of citizenship and commitment to compensation for the Windrush generation and their descendants, we now need a cross-governmental national strategy and more resources to support the history of the Windrush generation as part of British history.” - Patrick Vernon, Fellow
In 2019 Patrick launched the Windrush Justice Fund, which supports organisations that help people affected by the Windrush scandal. For this he secured £20,000 in matched funding from the Mayor of London, and support from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants. Earlier this year, Patrick led a successful campaign to prevent the Home Office from cutting funds to the National Organisation for Deported Migrants, a Jamaican charity supporting people deported by the UK government. The year before, he had been a leader of the campaign which persuaded the Government to name 22 June as Windrush Day, in recognition of the Windrush generation’s contribution to UK society. Campaigning by Patrick and others has led to changes in government immigration policy and the immigration system.
Patrick’s Churchill Fellowship explored ‘Black Heritage and Mental Wellbeing’ in Barbados, Jamaica and the USA in 2018. After meeting there with psychiatrists, academics and charities, he has championed the need to provide better mental health support for black communities and particularly those affected by the Windrush scandal. He has written about this in The Guardian on World Mental Health Day 2019 and elsewhere. Now he is in discussion with the Director of Mental Health Services at NHS England about his ideas.
Patrick said: “It has been great that the public have donated to the Windrush Justice Fund to support grass roots community organisations, to help people resolve their citizenship status and apply for the Windrush Compensation scheme. After 18 months fighting for recognition of citizenship and commitment to compensation for the Windrush generation and their descendants, we now need a cross-governmental national strategy and more resources to support the history of the Windrush generation as part of British history.”