SPECIAL REPORT: Northampton man was trapped in Jamaica for 21 months because of Windrush scandal
A Northampton man who came to England as a six-year-old Windrush migrant was left stranded in Jamaica for 21 months when border officials refused to allow him to return to England.
Joe Robinson, who is now sofa surfing between friends and family, has lived in the town for 50 years.
He came over to Northampton on his mother’s passport as a six-year-old.
But the 58-year-old is among hundreds of migrants whose landing cards were lost or “shredded” by the Home Office as part of the Windrush Scandal.
It meant that when Joe went to meet family in Jamaica on his 50th birthday in 2009 he was held by border officials before the return flight.
The grandfather-of-three, who now works as a support worker helping children break ties with gangs, was forced to stay in a bedsit in the country for 21 months.
Speaking this week, as Theresa May apologised to the Windrush migrants for the hurt caused by the scandal, Joe said: “What I went through was appalling. My children were in tears all the time. It was very hard on them.
“I went through all that and I hadn’t done anything wrong.
“All I did was go on holiday and they wouldn’t let me come home.”
His sister Nadine Robinson, who runs a service for children living in care, had to pay for Joe to live in Jamaica during the torturous 21 months, while he tried to prove his UK citizenship.
She also had to try to keep up payments on her brother’s council flat in Lawrence Court, off Barrack Road.
Nadine said: “When he was away for the 21 months it was horrendous. We couldn’t celebrate any significant events, we felt guilty.
“If I wasn’t in a position to pay for him, I don’t know what we would have done.”
When Joe returned in 2011, his rent was Â£4,500 in arrears – an amount he has only just cleared seven years on.
Now he believes he and the other Windrush migrants should be compensated by the Government.
He said: “The British Government left me and others like me stranded.”
The Windrush generation refers to the immigrants who were invited to the UK between 1948 and 1971 from Caribbean countries such as Jamaica.
The name derives from the ship MV Empire Windrush, which brought nearly 500 Jamaicans to the UK.
The scandal has been growing in recent months after a number of cases emerged of people facing deportation because of lost landing cards.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Home Secretary has been clear, this is about people who have built their lives here in the UK and contributed so much to our society.
"We don’t want them to feel unwelcome or to be in any doubt about their right to remain here.
"The vast majority will already have documentation that proves their right to be here.
“For those that don’t, we have established a new dedicated team to quickly help them get the documentation they need.”