Black Caribbean immigrants experienced racism on many different levels and there were no laws to protect them.
Qualifications and work – Men
Almost half of all the men who came from the Caribbean to the UK throughout the 1950s had previously worked in skilled positions or possessed excellent employment credentials.
Over half the men from the Caribbean initially accepted jobs with a lower status than their skills and experience qualified them for.
Many found their access to work restricted to jobs the local population considered undesirable, including street cleaning and general labouring, or to jobs that demanded anti-social hours such as working night shifts.
What about women from the Caribbean?
Most women undergoing nurse training were placed on the 2-year SEN course, rather than on the more prestigious SRN course. Women who were qualified nurses were often restricted to undertaking some of the most menial tasks during training. They could not easily return to the Caribbean after training, because the SEN qualification was not recognised there.
Britain today has laws against racism, but in practice Black British people are still experiencing it.
According to the Parliament website: “The Windrush scandal demonstrates a combination of a lack of concern about the real-world impact of the Home Office’s immigration policies compounded by a systemic failure to keep accurate records, meaning many people who are British citizens or have leave to remain in the UK do not have the paperwork to prove it.”
Because of the Windrush scandal, some people have lost their jobs, their homes, and their right to access bank accounts, healthcare and public funds. Others have been forced to return to the Caribbean. In 2013 the Government removed legal aid for almost all immigration cases, which made it much more difficult for people who could not afford the cost of appeal.
The Home Office failed to keep proper records of what status had been accorded to those coming from the Caribbean. In 2010 the Home Office destroyed the landing cards of those people who arrived from the Caribbean in the 1950s and 1960s, so it is now impossible to check the arrival dates for many older people. A person’s arrival date is crucial to a citizenship application, because the 1971 Immigration Act gave people who had already moved to Britain indefinite leave to remain.