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Mother of Windrush victim who died under ‘enormous stress’ blasts government

‘Ms Theresa May and her cabinet are all in it together... they are responsible for my son’s death’

08 June, 2018 — By William McLennan

Jacqueline McKenzie, Sentina Bristool, Cristel Amis, Sara Callaway and Cauline Braithwaite

THE mother of a Windrush scandal victim who believes her son’s death was caused by the stress of fighting to prove his British citizenship said that the government’s immigration policies were “wicked”.

Sentina Bristol’s son Dexter died outside his home in Holborn. The 58-year-old, who moved to the UK from Grenada five decades ago, had lost his job and been denied access to benefits as part of the government’s “hostile environment” immigration policies.

Ms Bristol, who worked as an NHS nurse for more than 40 years, said: “They took away everything from him. They took away his job. He could not sign on to get any money. He got notice that he had to give up the flat.”

She said that she blamed the government, adding: “Ms Theresa May, I’m not afraid to call her name, and her cabinet, they are all in it together. They are all responsible for my son’s death. This Conservative government, they are very wicked, unfair, unjust people. I haven’t got the right word to say what I think about them.”

Mr Bristol lost his job in May last year when his British citizenship was challenged and he was told he had no right to access benefits. His solicitors said he then faced a “10-month trek through an almighty bureaucracy”, attempting to track down landing cards, birth certificates and other proof of his arrival in the country five decades ago. The saga was said to have put him under “enormous stress”.

Ms Bristol said: “My son came to this country at eight years old. He knows nothing else more than this country. Nothing else. The only place he knows is England, that’s his home. He knows nobody else. He has nowhere else to go. Yet they wanted him to leave this country and go back to where he came from.”

She was speaking at an event organised Caribbean Labour Solidarity and campaigners from Women of Colour, who are based at the Crossroads Women’s Centre in Kentish Town.

She said: “I think that is very unfair, because I remember those days when I worked very, very hard. It was hard, I’m telling you, in those days in hospital. There was a lot of racism, a lot of insults, but I overcame all this. What I can not accept is what is happening now, the way they are treating these people. This is where they belong. If you spend 40 years plus in this country, even 20 years, this is your home. This is where you belong.”

Solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie, who is representing the Bristol family and has dealt with around 30 other Windrush cases in the past two years, said: “The whole system is rotten. I just hope that the Windrush story will enable all of us to take stock. We all have a responsibility to campaign and make sure something is done about it.” The Home Office said: “Our condolences are with Mr Bristol’s family and friends at this clearly difficult time.”

He had made no applications to the Home Office and, at the time of his death, was “not the subject of any removal action”, it added.

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