By Joy Sigaud
The British Caribbean Association (BCA) is an organisation created to lobby the concerns of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora in Parliament. In the wake of the Windrush scandal in 2018, Simon Hinds explains to Joy Sigaud that not enough people are coming forward to voice their concerns and there are organisations out there to help:
The people of our community often complain about racism. Rightly so. But do we make demands on our decision makers on a collective basis?
We could lobby but we don’t. Google has just a few examples of black people putting forward their concerns and to MPs.
So do political leaders feel they can ignore us? Perhaps it is no surprise that the government felt they could get away with creating their ‘hostile environment’ that then became the Windrush Scandal although Theresa May subsequently apologised.
As an ethnic community, Simon Hinds says we need organisations that will lobby and campaign in our interests and lobby political leaders. One organisation that could do just that is the British Caribbean Association (BCA). The BCA was formed by the efforts of the Late Lord David Pitt after the Notting Hill riots to improve relations between the Caribbean community and Parliament. It has established relationships with members of Parliament and Lords.
The current Presidents are The Hon Bruce Pitt LLB, son of Lord David Pitt, and The Right Honourable The Lord Boateng. The Chairman is Clive Lewis MP while the Deputy Chairman is The Rt Hon David Lammy MP. A former chairman is Conservative MP, John Hayes.
Recognised by politicians
The BCA has a documented history and is well placed to lobby with the aim of influencing government policy in the long-term interests of the Caribbean People both in their Countries and in Britain.
The BCA has taken up Windrush matters. Seeking to reflect the main views of the community, it drafted letters about Windrush that went to every MP including government ministers and the PM with some positive response.
In the letter, BCA pledged that it would press the government to ensure protection from deportation, obstruction to re-entry, access to work, housing and health services to long-standing British residents of Caribbean heritage.
The Government responded to the letter. The former Minister of State for Immigration, Rt Hon Caroline Nokes, wrote to the BCA stating:
“I want to reaffirm my commitment to put right the wrongs faced by the Windrush generation and their families. Commonwealth citizens who arrived in the UK before 1973 had a legal right to be here then and I do not want any member of this generation to be in any doubt of their right to be here.”
In 2017, Deputy Chairman David Lammy says: “I am concerned that young people from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are not as politically engaged as older generations.”