A brand new advice service for the Windrush generation and their families has officially opened its doors to continue the legacy of the work of Windush campaigner Paulette Wilson, who was wrongly detained and threatened with deportation to Jamaica, where she had not been for more than 50 years.
The Windrush Justice Clinic Service in Bilston held a launch event on Monday, April 19, featuring speeches from people such as social campaigner Patrick Vernon, co-founder Maureen Mitchell and Wolverhampton South-East MP Pat McFadden.
Mrs Mitchell said she hoped the centre could become a beacon of refuge for people struggling with the issues around Windrush as part of a wider movement.
She said: “It should be an organisation that not just black people, but anyone affected by Windrush can use it as a facility for help and support.
“When I was brainstorming the idea with Patrick Vernon, we looked at what support groups there were in the Midlands and we really couldn’t find anything, so we decided to be the first.
“We want other people to be inspired by this as we all come from different backgrounds and we want this to be a blessing and a fitting tribute to Paulette.”
Part of the work of the service will be a collaboration with the law school at Wolverhampton University, with undergraduate law students having the opportunity to offer legal advice volunteering at the centre.
Head of law Sukhninder Panesar said the legacy of what happened with Paulette Wilson was one of the driving factors for the collaboration.
He said: “She was really wronged and something like this shouldn’t have happened, given what she had done to come over and give so much to the community.
“To be denied those rights in the circumstances was not right and we can’t allow this to happen to other people moving forwards.”
Natalie Barnes, daughter of Paulette Wilson, said a centre like this would have been a godsend for her mother and said she would help as much as she could.
She said: “My mum would have been elated to have seen this place start up and I will help out as much as I can.
“If I can, I will put 100 percent of my time into this place and if they need me at any time, I will be here.
“Also, if there’s someone going through issues, I can speak to them personally as I have been through it, so I will be here to speak and listen to them.”
Patrick Vernon said he hoped the new centre could empower people and help them get away from any feeling of hopelessness and take back control.
He said: “Often, when you’re in a situation like the Windrush Scandal and something has been done to you, there’s often a state of hopelessness.
“The whole idea is that we can take control and responsibility, helping poorer people to get access to legal advice and provision and help build their confidence to help reclaim their lives.
“It’s fitting that we’re doing it here in Wolverhampton and while it’s sad that it’s a year since Paulette passed away, it’s great to have the support of Natalie.”
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