The strong response to a letter from Lambeth council urging residents to claim under the Windrush Compensation Scheme meant supplies of a special form temporarily ran out.
The council had prepared a printed form, available at the town hall in Brixton, for people not confident with online application to the scheme.
The Windrush Compensation Scheme was established after it was revealed that many people – in Lambeth and across the country – have been and are faced with problems over the right to work, access to benefits and other services, including NHS treatment, that they are entitled to.
Some were even deported as a result of the government’s failure to support people who are legally entitled to be in the UK but do not have the documentation it demands as part of its ”hostile environment” policy.
This particularly affects Black Caribbean people who arrived in the UK in the 50s, 60s and 70s, many of whom made Lambeth, and Brixton in particular, their home.
Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth’s cabinet member for equalities and culture, herself a member of the Windrush generation who once worked as a librarian in the borough, wrote to Lambeth residents urging them to apply themselves, or to encourage others who might have been affected to apply.
The surge in interest in the scheme comes as the council and local MPs renewed calls for action to support the Windrush generation.
Cllr Winifred joined Lambeth MPs, Helen Hayes (Dulwich and West Norwood), Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham) and Florence Eshalomi (Vauxhall), to write to the home secretary Priti Patel to ask for the independent review of the Windrush scandal to be released to the public as soon as possible.
The review was set up to provide an independent assessment of the events leading up to the Windrush scandal and to identify key lessons for the government.
Cllr Winifred said: “The government needs to learn the lessons in an open and transparent way of what happened in recent years with the implementation of the hostile environment policy.
“To fail to do so, at the same time many people are struggling to access compensation through a poorly designed and complex compensation scheme, is causing great hurt and anxiety amongst our residents.
“The stories that we hear regularly of the trauma and immense sacrifices that the Windrush generation made in coming to this country and making it a home are distressing.
“We owe a huge amount to those who came here, who worked hard to improve our public services and enriched our society in so many ways.
“We also know of the huge distrust and fear of the authorities that there is in our community, given the horrific treatment of so many at the hands of the hostile environment policy.
“Here in Lambeth we are united in our support for the Windrush generation and we will keep fighting for justice for them.”
The letter sent to Lambeth residents said that Cllr Winifred will continue to fight for the proposed official Windrush memorial to be sited in Brixton’s Windrush Square, rather than at Waterloo as recommended by Lambeth resident Floella Benjamin.
Online details of the scheme are on the government website at gov.uk/guidance/windrush-compensation-scheme
You can also pick up a form from the reception at Lambeth town hall, 1 Brixton Hill, SW2 1RW. More supplies are due to be available by the end of this week.
The scope of the Windrush Compensation Scheme is not limited to people who originally came to the UK from the Caribbean Commonwealth.
Almost everyone originally from a Commonwealth country who arrived before 1 January 1973 is included.
If someone has the right of abode or settled status (or is now a British citizen) and arrived to live in the UK before 31 December 1988 they will also be eligible to apply regardless of their nationality when they arrived – even if they are not a Commonwealth citizen.
The scheme is also open to many others including children and grandchildren of Commonwealth citizens in certain circumstances; the estates of those who are now deceased but who would have otherwise been eligible to claim compensation; and close family members of eligible claimants where there has been a significant impact on their life or where there is evidence of certain direct financial costs.
The last in the current series of free Black Cultural Archives surgeries on the Windrush Compensation Scheme led by specialist immigration lawyers takes place on Saturday (29 February) from 10am to noon.
See the BCA website’s dedicated page