IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Windrush victim Balvin ‘happy’ as he is told: You can stay

Home Office ends seven-year ordeal of former road-sweeper who now begins damages battle

25 May, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Balvin Marshall: ‘If I ever forget what has happened to me, it will be a miracle’

A FORMER Islington road-sweeper from the Windrush generation has been told he has the right to stay in the UK after a seven-year ordeal which made him homeless.

Although Balvin Marshall feels a sense of relief, he is now speaking with solicitors to build a compensation case for the years he couldn’t work or even afford food at times.

After the 64-year-old’s plight was revealed in the Tribune last month, he was moved to council accommodation.

He had been sleeping in a building used as a warehouse in Tottenham on and off for years.

Mr Marshall, who came to London from Jamaica in 1972, said: “If I ever forget what has happened to me, it will be a miracle. I’m happy but do you know why I’m not really happy? Because this has been my position from the beginning.

“They [the Home Office] just say people are denied [their freedom] and then take it away. I feel my rights were always there, but they did not allow me to use my rights and freedom.”

As first reported by the Tribune in 2011, Mr Marshall lost his job with Islington Council’s then cleaning contractor Enter­prise after a visit by the Border Agency as part of a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Mr 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

After losing his income, he was forced to leave his rented flat and has been sleeping on a makeshift bed in Tottenham or occasionally with family.

He said that his birth certificate and National Insurance number were not enough to prove his residency. As a result he was not able to work or claim benefits.

But at an appointment with the Home Office on Friday, it was confirmed he now has the “right to remain” under the Windrush policy. He will be issued with a biometric residence permit.

The Tribune and his family contacted David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, when Mr Marshall called at the newspaper offices last month.

The MP’s office sought legal advice for him and put him in touch with Haringey Council, which gave him a place in sheltered accommodation, with hopes of long-term accommodation.

Of his new accommodation, Mr Marshall said: “My first night there was like being released from prison. I’ve never been to prison, but I can imagine that’s what it feels like.

How the Tribune first reported Mr Marshall’s immigration ordeal in 2011

“It’s like somebody had hosed me off. I felt fresh. It’s like a palace compared to where I was.” He now hopes to find a job.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has taken the first steps towards establishing a Windrush compensation scheme. Mr Marshall’s solicitor, Nina Rathbone Pullen, is helping him build a case for submission.

Ms Rathbone Pullen, of Wilsons Solicitors LLP, said Mr Marshall’s case “symbolises the impact” many immigrants have felt of the “hostile environment” agenda operated by the then coalition government from 2010.

She said: “I am shock­ed to hear what he’s been through.

“It’s too early to put a figure on [compensation]. We need to really understand not only the quantifiable loss in terms of loss of earnings but also the impact it’s had on him psychologically and any potential breaches of human rights as a result of what happened.”

Mr Lammy said: “I have demanded that the Home Office pay Balvin significant compensation and reparation for what they have put him through.

“But the point is that Windrush citizens have been left destitute and even homeless because the Home Office has stripped them of their rights to work, claim benefits and access public services.”

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