LawWorks InfoExchange: Windrush

The October LawWorks Clinics Network InfoExchange brought together clinic coordinators and volunteers to learn more about the story behind Windrush and the practicalities of developing and setting up a Windrush Clinic.

It was in April 2018 that the Windrush scandal gained the publics’ attention. The Windrush generation1 came originally from British colonies fully believing they were British Citizens, only much later discovering they lacked official paperwork to remain here in the UK. Changes to immigration law by successive governments left people fearful of deportation and without the correct documentation they found it hard to work or even access services such as NHS treatment and all other benefits afforded to UK nationals. It soon emerged that hundreds of Commonwealth citizens, many of whom were from the ‘Windrush’ generation, had been wrongly detained, deported and denied legal rights. 

Following a public outcry the government has issued an apology and set up two schemes: The Windrush Scheme and the Windrush Compensation Scheme, launched on 3 April 2019. However, there is still concern that not enough is being done with many still struggling, three years after the Windrush scandal first hit the headlines. The Windrush compensation scheme is complex to navigate, there is a lack of free legal advice and with a huge backlog of cases still to be resolved, claims take months to process.

Contributing to this session were:

  • Dr Gifty Edila, Barrister and Solicitor Advocate, Windrush Justice Clinic
  • Anna Steiner, Senior Lecturer Senior Lecturer and Supervising Solicitor, University of Westminster Legal Advice Clinic
  • Sibon Phiri, Founder and Managing Director, United Legal Access
  • Laura Bee, Director and Supervising Solicitor, Legal Advice Clinic University of Leicester

Dr Gifty Edila gave a brief summary of how and when black people first made an appearance in the UK, not as some might think when the ship MV Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury on 22 June 1948! Gifty went on to tell of how the Windrush scandal escalated and worsened with the hostile environment seeing black people lose their jobs, their homes, their livelihoods and even leading to the government deporting black UK citizens whose only fault was not being able to find the legal representation they so desperately needed to avoid this outcome.

Next we heard from Anna Steiner. Anna spoke of her own indignation, anger and outrage at the how the Windrush generation had been treated and had suffered as a consequence and how this shaped her determination to help those affected. As one of the co-founders of the Windrush Justice Clinic set up in 2020, Anna told us how the clinic came about and how it works as a collaborative partnership between University Law Clinics, Law Centres and Community Organisations, including details of how the clinic’s referral system works. 

Sibon Phiri shared with us details of how her clinic works in partnership with two law firms, Ashurst LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP. Sibon set up her charity United Legal Access (ULA) in August 2019. Initially working with just a handful of volunteers in local churches around Nottingham, Sibon has gone on to develop clinic pro bono services in Birmingham and London.

Laura Bee, Director and Supervising Solicitor of the Legal Advice Clinic at the University of Leicester, supervises a project, partnering with ULA, where law students help claimants with Windrush Compensation Scheme claims. The Clinic has been running for about a year but only recently has picked up momentum. Laura focused on students’ involvement in ‘Windrush’ and four main reasons why they might want to get involved in this important pro bono work.

Thank you to our speakers: Laura Bee, Dr Gifty Edila, Sibon Phiri and Anna Steiner. 


1It is unclear how many people belong to the Windrush generation, but they are thought to be in their thousands.


Type of Resource

Date of publication

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Date last reviewed

Wednesday, October 20, 2021