7th Jun, 2020

Former trainee nurse forced to leave UK due to Windrush scandal receives pass to stay in country

Laura Kearns 30th Mar, 2020 Updated: 30th Mar, 2020

A FORMER Warwick Hospital trainee nurse who was forced to leave the country as part of the Windrush scandal has received a pass to stay in the UK.

Iciline Brown told The Observer of the ‘stressful and draining’ experience after being stripped of her British passport three years ago.

She moved to Leamington in the 1950s with husband-to-be Gersham having arrived as part of the ‘Windrush generation’ – named after the first ship which docked in the UK from the Caribbean in response to post-war labour shortages.

Iciline called the country home for nearly 40 years, raising a family here. Gersham even helped build Coventry’s new cathedral in the 1950s.

When Iciline retired to Jamaica after being widowed in 1991, she planned to regularly return to Britain to see her four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

But in 2017 she was stripped of her British passport in the political scandal.

Two years later she was granted a temporary visa.

But following the hard work of her family she has now secured a ‘biometric card’ – allowing her to come and go from the country she once called home.

The 83-year-old said: “It was a totally stressful and draining experience. We were invited to come to this country to help rebuild it in the 1950s with no application.

“We were then made to feel like intruders. I lived here, worked here, paid taxes, contributed to my community.

“I remain concerned and share the pain and fear of the untold numbers of other Windrush citizens whose lives are in limbo because of home office decisions against us.”

Her family worked alongside Warwick and Leamington MP Matt Western to secure the card, receiving the support of neighbours and the Observer which has followed Iciline’s ordeal.

Daughter Monica Brown, who spearheaded the campaign, said the final breakthrough came after she directly contacted the home secretary Priti Patel and copied in all relevant Windrush committees.

And after the biometric card landed on the doorstep she ‘burst into tears’.

Monica told the Observer: “I gasped and cried. Angry tears that we had been put through this, tears of rage that so many Windrush citizens had their lives destroyed by the intentional and savage policies of the Home Office.

“These law abiding, positive and productive citizens were criminalized by the Home Office. We are thankful that our own case has been settled but our victory felt hollow and incomplete. How many other Windrush cases have had a tragic end with our people stripped of their human rights, homes, their jobs, their dignity and their minds? What kind of society uses the state machinery to criminalize its largely black citizens supposedly in the name of reducing immigration?

“I am relieved mother has the choice to be in the UK whenever she wants, this means freedom of movement, not dictated by a visa and missing important family events which cannot be replayed.

“We fought hard and we won. We look forward to the swift resolution of the other outstanding Windrush cases.”

Monica has used the experience to inspire a collection of short stories about the Windrush generation titled ‘Going to England’ which she is currently looking to publish.

She began writing them eight years ago after studying those who arrived in the UK from the Caribbean.

She added: “The campaign made me determined to document the lives of some Windrush citizens, to honour them, so that they wouldn’t be seen as home office statistics but real, rounded individuals with stories that disturbed and entertained.”

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