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Windrush man who lost school job is still waiting for compensation

Michael Braithwaite says the trauma continues with victims feeling like they do not belong

22 June, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Michael Braithwaite

A FATHER of three who lost his job after becoming embroiled in a bureaucratic blunder amid the Windrush scandal says he still has not received compensation owed from the government.

Michael Braithwaite, 68, was dismissed from his job as a teaching assistant at Gospel Oak Primary School in 2016 after being asked to produce a biometric card for working migrants.

He had come to the UK with his family from Barbados in 1961 when he was nine years old.

“We were offered £20,000 from the government but for the years-long ordeal I had to go through and am still going through, my solicitors didn’t think it was enough,” he said.

It is understood that only 60 people have received compensation payments since the scheme began this year. The fund is expected to pay out up to £500million.

Mr Braithwaite was offered his job at Gospel Oak back in 2018 but has since begun part-time work at Somers Town Community Association teaching music to young adults. He was finally granted leave to stay by the Home Office in 2018, but Mr Braithwaite said the trauma of his ordeal has stuck.

The BBC’s Sitting in Limbo aired last week telling the story of Anthony Bryan who was sacked, arrested and threatened with deportation after he was mistakenly identified as an illegal immigrant by the Home Office in 2015.

Mr Braithwaite said: “After watching Sitting in Limbo all the memories came back. It bought back that mental state of mind. It was a good thing to see but me and Anthony shared similar experiences and we need to keep our sanity.”

He added: “I got so many messages from a lot of people who looked at Anthony and thought of myself. They got a fresh view of the pain and suffering people have had to go through. For a few days after I felt very unhappy about the situation, thinking about Anthony as well and what we went through.

“People are dying, people who are my age and who are destitute and rely on charities to support themselves. It is inhumane.”

Home secretary Priti Patel said: “By listening to feedback from community leaders and those affected, we have begun to put right the wrongs caused to a generation who have contributed so much to our country.

“The Windrush compensation scheme has been developed to ease the burden from the unacceptable mistreatment some have faced, which is why it is so important that people continue to come forward.”

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