A Windrush story to provide genuine hope

Iciline-Brown-2048x1407

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Veron Graham (The Voice Online) reports on “a Windrush story to provide genuine hope.”

The Brown family celebrating after its successful campaign encouraged the Home Office to return British passport to their 83-year-old mother

A WARWICKSHIRE family is celebrating after its successful campaign encouraged the Home Office to return the British passport to their 83-year-old mother, who had lived in the UK for nearly 40 years.

Iciline Brown, who currently lives in Clarendon, Jamaica, returned to the island after being widowed in 1991. She is now in proud possession of a biometric card which permits her to return to the UK to visit her family of four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“This turnaround is about us coming together as a collective, looking at what resources we have internally, not relying purely on others to do the work for us,” said daughter and media lecturer Monica Brown, who spearheaded the production of a short instructional video featuring her brothers Freddie, Noel and Phillip – to inspire and encourage others to follow in her family’s footsteps.

“We began by getting our story together, being persistent and not giving up when we faced bureaucracy or opposition.

“Another key factor was prayer. We’re people of faith and we put our actions to God and this was the key to the Home Office changing its mind.”

“This turnaround is about us coming together as a collective, looking at what resources we have internally, not relying purely on others”

Monica Brown

Referencing the many tragic stories that have emerged since the Windrush Scandal broke, Monica added: “Many of us have not been successful because we have not had a team around us, have relied heavily on advocates and may have come to the process defeated before starting.

“We have to be our own rescue, whether it concerns the Home Office, the education system and anywhere else where we face injustice.

“Our success is not down to wealth – we did not use any lawyers in this process. We had to be lionhearted – look at the situation, recognising it’s wrong and be willing to do something about it.

“Over 30 years ago, my funeral was planned because I was very ill. But I’m still here, happy and well and can now return to see my family without opposition.”

Iciline Brown

The Browns name-checked a number of people whose support they enlisted which were instrumental in their triumph, including Matt Western, MP for Warwick and Leamington, the controversial Home Secretary Pritti Patel, who replied within a week of receiving email and postal correspondence from the Browns, who also copied in all of the relevant Windrush committees, detailing their plight. Home Office colleague Jon Drew also drew accolades from the family for being “incredibly responsive and respectful” during the process.

“I don’t care what anyone has to say about Pritti Patel, she wrote back to us quickly, apologising for the delay and indicating that mother’s Biometric card would be delivered shortly. And it was.”

Mother Brown, who turns 84 on 28 December, told The Voice: “I really thank the Lord for this victory and for life. I don’t take anything or any day for granted.

“Over 30 years ago, my funeral was planned because I was very ill. But I’m still here, happy and well and can now return to see my family without opposition.”

Extensive

Eight years ago, Monica followed up her extensive study of Caribbean literature by working on Going to England, a collection of stories documenting the plight of Caribbean people’s arrival on these shores.

With her debut anthology, Journey Back to Zanzibar, available on general release, she added: “There was nothing on the bookshelves that told our stories. I had to do what I could to start redressing the balance.”

Monica, who lives in the Leamington area of the West Midlands county of Warwickshire, is gearing up to offer online services to support others going through similar processes, and concluded: “Our story does not compare to many others who have suffered greatly and our victory feels a little hollow as so many Windrush cases remain unresolved.

“As a people we have been under pressure, weakened and frightened but we must stand up and rediscover our fight – like Mandela, King, Malcolm and so many others.

“We have the examples in our community. Our hope is that people take away from our story that we are not powerless but we have to summon the strength from within us and go forward.”

The video account of the Browns’ story can be found on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcvTxYWyQqU&t=87s

Source: https://www.voice-online.co.uk/windrush/2020/04/15/a-windrush-story-to-provide-genuine-hope

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