W D Legal gives a voice to people interested in participating in the analysis, research, and design of policy ideas and community strategies to address areas where African Caribbean people in Britain are experiencing serious harm including race disparities within the following five themes:
This theme considers the design of centres across Britain that provide support services and community infrastructure for African Caribbean people. The Burning Work: Protocol programmes workshops for community representatives, researchers and local authorities to come together within such centres to co-design cultural activities but also specific services to address the Serious Harm referred to in Wendy Williams' Windrush Lessons Learned Review 2020. This includes sourcing and analysing data evidencing race disparities across areas of Community Cohesion, Criminal Justice, Health, Education, and Work
The establishment of community hubs such as the Nello James Centre; the West Indian Organisations’ Coordinating Committee (WIOCC); the West Indian Sports and Social Club (WISSC); the Moss Side and Hulme Community Development Trust; The African Caribbean Care Group; and the Nia Cultural Centre were platforms to develop the talent of young people, incubate business and host cultural activities. They have also made significant contributions in tackling the fractures and conflicts of a diverse community and helped to nurture a sense of belonging and confidence.
These community hubs brought about real change to the lives of the people living in the local areas. However, their history and their significance to the Windrush generation have received limited attention. Focus on the Windrush Generation has rightly tended to draw attention to the challenges of migrating from former British colonies and settling in Britain, however not enough is known about the positive achievements and the contributions made by this generation to community cohesion.
Through community research, Windrush Defenders Legal C.I.C. review how the Criminal Justice System impacts the lives of African Caribbean people in Britain. The term "African Caribbean" is not commonly used in official statistics in relation to the Criminal Justice System, and data on this specific group is not always available. However, the overrepresentation of black people in the criminal justice system is a well-documented issue in the UK.
The Home Office is a key government department involved in upholding British policing and immigration law enforcement standards. However, this government body has been criticised by Wendy Williams in her Windrush Lessons Learned Review 2020 for “a profound institutional failure” regarding how it’s policies and practices have seriously harmed African Caribbean people. Therefore, this theme requires a review of research, archival material, data and oral testimony to propose policy recommendations across government departments for local and national authorities to repair the serious harm
According to the UK Ministry of Justice, in 2020, black people made up 3% of the general population in England and Wales but accounted for 12% of the prison population. 41% of children in youth custody in the year ending March 2020 were black or mixed heritage (source). Key reports and inquiries include the Macpherson Report (1999), the Lammy Review (2017), recent analysis by HM inspectorate of Probation (2021), The Baroness Casey Review: Racism, Misogyny and Homophobia in Policing (2023) , and localised reports such as Greater Manchester Police’s 2021 Achieving Race Equality Report.
Education is a fundamental right for everyone, but not all students are able to thrive in the same way in the British education system. This research theme focuses on the experience of African Caribbean elders in relation to their descendants in Britain and how the education system has both succeeded and failed them.
Through research and consultation, Windrush Defenders Legal C.I.C. are currently examining disparities in educational outcomes for British African Caribbean students. Firstly, this includes looking at cases seen within Windrush Defenders Legal C.I.C. surgeries where many of the Windrush Generation and their descendants were restricted access to British education systems due to their residency status. Secondly, a further reference is the misclassification of thousands of Caribbean children, including our Patron Prof Sir Geoff Palmer, as Educationally Sub Normal (ESN) in the 1960s and 1970s.
Today British African Caribbean students face numerous challenges within the education system, including lower attainment levels, higher exclusion rates, and less access to higher education. Rather than the foundation of an education, too many young people are beginning their formative years within pupil referral units, and youth detention institutes. Despite this, there have been improvements.
Burning Work: Education also seeks to highlight the successes of African Caribbean students who have excelled academically within the education system. Despite the extreme difficulty of being misclassified as Educationally Sub Normal, a draconian category in-itself, Windrush Defenders Legal C.I.C. Patron Prof Sir Geoff Palmer went on to become an eminent scientist making significant contributions to the international brewing industry.
This research theme considers the role of education in countering the “lack of institutional memory” within public institutions regarding the history of the British empire in relation to the Caribbean and the diaspora in Britain. Indeed, a key objective of this theme considers approaches to co-designing training frameworks to deliver practical solutions that address the wider challenges faced by African Caribbean people in Britain.
This research theme seeks to develop a framework for reviewing the policies and practices of public bodies that impact racial disparities within health - particularly in reference to the “serious harm” experienced by African Caribbean people outlined in the Windrush Lessons Learned Review 2020. The aim is to work with specialist organisations within our coalition to develop sustainable intergenerational mental health support for those people impacted by the Windrush Scandal who may have experienced depression, anxiety, and race related trauma.
A further objective is to develop sustainable mental health support to reduce the current dependence on the criminal justice system. As a former director of the African Caribbean Mental Health Service in Manchester, Professor Carol Baxter was amazed at how many of the service users had links to the police. Professor Baxter noticed the average white person tended to come in because they were distressed or their parents decided they were depressed or some other reason. But most of the African Caribbean people came in via the route of the police into the mental health services.
The British health system has long been a subject of both admiration and critique. W D Legal consult with a coalition of African Caribbean health practitioners and academics when writing case studies and reports that inform policy design. Through her research, Prof Dawn Edge of Manchester University found that Black people may not be receiving the care they need, meaning many treatable issues remain undiagnosed. On the other hand, she also found a major problem of Black people being disproportionately over-diagnosed and over-medicated for certain mental health conditions.
Professor Dawn Edge’s research shows how Black people are less likely to communicate mental health issues through existing channels. In addition, when speaking to therapists, she explains how Black people often find they are not listened to or understood by professional therapists. Caribbean people are nine times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. For people from African backgrounds, it is six times as likely than a white British person. They are also given longer courses of medication to treat the same conditions. These points raise questions around how medical judgements intersect with race to reproduce racial disparities.
Everyday experiences are not the same for Black and white people and so where practices are built upon deviating from the ‘norm’, there is warped ground from which to base decisions on. Dawn finds it truly shocking that medical professionals are able to graduate from studies with no cultural education which evidently creates huge holes in the delivery of healthcare.
The Windrush Scandal exposed the fact that many of the Windrush Generation had lost jobs or were unable to work due to their residency status. This has drawn attention to the psychological and economic effects of unemployment, a labour market outcome twice as likely to be represented by African Caribbean people. Therefore, Windrush Defenders Legal C.I.C. seek to support people claiming compensation due to losses in employment. W D Legal C.I.C. also consider the importance of community hubs being intergenerational places to access resources and participate in the design of local and national policies that support innovative new businesses.
Another important aspect of this research theme is to highlight the successes and achievements of African Caribbean people in British business and employment. Despite facing numerous challenges, many have been able to establish successful careers and businesses. Organisations such as Cariocca Enterprises and initiatives such as the Black Business Incubator at Somerset House are leading on these issues, but coordination with other organisations working in this field could be improved.By examining these successes, this research theme aims to identify strategies and best practices that can help other African Caribbean people achieve similar outcomes.