IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Windrush: Road-sweeper homeless for seven years after losing his job

64-year-old Balvin Marshall has been living in ‘limbo’ since 2011, unable to work or claim benefits after immigration crackdown

04 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Balvin Marshall, pictured in 2011, came to Britain to join his ­family in 1972, aged 18

A FORMER Islington road-sweeper who came to Britain from Jamaica four decades ago has been living homeless for seven years after being sacked due to doubts over his immigration status.

Balvin Marshall said he has been in “limbo” living in a warehouse or with family and unable to work or claim benefits since 2011 when he lost his job.

Mr Marshall had been working for the Town Hall’s previous cleaning operator Enterprise when the then UK Border Agency visited their offices.

He spoke out yesterday (Thursday) after ­similar stories of mistreatment of Caribbean immigrants enveloped the government in the Windrush scandal.

As first reported in the Tribune in 2011, there were fears he could have been deported as he could not find the relevant documentation to prove he came to this country to join his ­family in 1972, aged 18.

The 64-year-old – who is nearing pension age – said: “I’ve been in total limbo for the last seven years. I feel like all that labour was is vain.

How the Tribune reported his case at the time

“I don’t know where my pension has gone, I don’t know if I will get it.”

He added: “If I could say anything to the government, [it would be] ‘why me, someone who has worked that long?’ I’ve spent so much time and labour in this country and they treat me like I shouldn’t exist.”

Mr Marshall, who had paid National Insurance and tax over four decades, lost his job of almost 10 years with Enterprise after a visit by the Border Agency as part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

The father of five grown-up children had lost his passport, which he said had all the right-to-entry-and-stay documentation inside.

Many residents and traders were shocked when they first heard of Mr Marshall’s plight and he has become dependent on handouts and the kindness of others.

Speaking yesterday, his sister Hilary Barrett, 51, who lives in Tottenham, said: “He has no access to public funds or anything, as if he’s an illegal alien.

“He was invited to the country as his mother was here. He’s had to live life off the radar for the last seven years.

“He took a job not a lot of people would have taken and now he is being treated like the rubbish he ended up collecting off the streets.”

Mr Marshall had been working for the Town Hall’s previous cleaning operator when the then UK Border Agency visited their offices in 2011

Prime Minister Theresa May apologised to Commonwealth leaders last month for the anxiety caused to children of their citizens in Britain.

On Sunday, home secretary Amber Rudd resigned from her role over her handling of the scandal. Her replacement, Sajid Javid, promised to “do the right by the Windrush generation”.

Mr Marshall said he had not been in contact with the Home Office but, after seeing the Windrush cases in the media, said he called them yesterday (Thursday). He is now waiting to hear back.

On the Windrush scandal, he said: “It’s a disgrace really.

“I sent my birth certificate and National Insurance number and they said it wasn’t enough. I need proof of when I came.

“I never felt I was illegal as I’m not illegal. When they first started saying I’m going to lose my job, that was more frightening. Sometimes you just sit down and your mind just drifts and it’s darkness around. And I just have to pick myself up again.”

GMB union official Gary Doolan helped Mr Marshall with his case in 2011. He said they tried to do everything they could to help him and at the time blamed the laws of the country for his plight.

Mr Doolan said: “We didn’t have the law on our side. We contacted everyone we could.”

The Home Office was not able to provide a statement as the Tribune went to press last night.

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