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Guardian Journalist Amelia Gentleman wins first Paulette Wilson Windrush Award

It feels really important to have an award highlighting ongoing work to secure justice for those affected, because there is still so much that needs to be done“. Amelia Gentleman

The 2020 Windrush Caribbean Film Festival closed with first The Paulette Wilson Windrush Award, which is named after the prominent activist who was wrongly detained by the Home Office, who went on to become one of the faces of the Windrush scandal justice campaign and died in July, the award is given to an individual who has been instrumental in advancing the narrative to achieve justice for the Windrush generation. Wilson who was a Jamaican national was one of the first to who come forward to speak  to the media about her case which encouraged dozens of others to follow prompting the Windrush scandal.

Paulette Wilson

The recipient of the 2020 award went to Amelia Gentleman, a British journalist who is a reporter for The Guardian. Gentlemen is the journalist who broke the Windrush story and has not stopped fighting to keep the conversation alive. She was named journalist of the year (Press Gazette) and won the 2018 Paul Foot journalism award for her reportage on the Windrush scandal, which led to the downfall of the Home Secretary and the government loosening its ‘hostile environment’ policy for migrants. She has also won the Orwell Prize and Feature Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards. Previously, she was Delhi correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, and Paris and Moscow correspondent for the Guardian.

Gentleman’s recent book lays bear the hostilities of the Windrush scandal the book, The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment details “the Windrush scandal and leading to the resignation of Amber Rudd as Home Secretary. Her tenacious reporting revealed how the government’s ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy had led to thousands of law-abiding people being wrongly classified as illegal immigrants, with many being removed from the country, and many more losing their homes and their jobs.

In The Windrush Betrayal, Gentleman tells the full story of her investigation for the first time. Her writing shines a light on the people directly affected by the scandal and illustrates the devastating effect of politicians becoming so disconnected from the world outside Westminster that they become oblivious to the impact of their policy decisions. This is a vitally important account that exposes deeply disturbing truths about modern Britain”.

Gentlemen told ALT. “I feel really proud to have won this prize alongside Nadine White, who is a brilliant journalist. I was lucky to meet and speak to Paulette Wilson many times over the past three years. She was a natural campaigner, and her bravery in coming forward to talk about the Home Office’s treatment of her was instrumental in exposing the Windrush scandal. It feels really important to have an award highlighting ongoing work to secure justice for those affected, because there is still so much that needs to be done. Many people are still waiting for compensation, unable to rebuild their lives. It is an issue I will continue to write about in the Guardian. I’d like to thank the organisers for awarding me prize.”

Paulette’s daughter Nadine Barnes said of the award.  “We’re thrilled and I know my mother would be too, to have this prestigious award named after her,” said Natalie Barnes, Wilson’s daughter. “My mother was a humble woman but she was passionate about seeking justice for everyone caught up in the Windrush scandal. To see her honoured in this way is truly a wonderful legacy for her to have left.”

The award ends the 2020 Windrush Caribbean Film Festival. The digital event took place over six days from 17 October – 8 November. It included screenings, discussions and master classes.

To get the book by Amelia Gentleman click here: The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment Paperback – 5 Nov. 2020

@ameliagentleman Read more of Amelia work: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/jul/24/without-paulette-wilson-windrush-may-have-remained-hidden

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