Pics supplied by Bishop Desmond Jaddoo MBE & Ed King
On 16 June, King Charles III issued his first birthday honours list – celebrating individuals across the country for their charitable work, fearless campaigning, and significant contributions to British society.
Amongst the nine dignitaries recognised from the West Midlands, Kingstanding’s Bishop Desmond Jaddoo was awarded with a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his ‘services to the Windrush Generation’.
The first LOCAL PROFILE to ever appear on our printed pages, Erdington Local caught up with the prominent man of faith and community leader – now titled Bishop Desmond Jaddoo MBE.
“I have been involved in helping families caught up in the Windrush scandal prior to it being exposed, as it were. The first case I got involved with was back in 2014 and it was a local Erdington family, and since then there have been several hundred cases which have come forward with people who have lived in the UK almost all their lives and they were told they were not British as a result of the hostile environment.
“It is important to note that the hostile environment is a direct result of the 2007 immigration and borders bill, which was presented by the then government as a mechanism to control migration into the UK. We found that the impact on Commonwealth countries – and particularly Jamaica – was quite substantial and it would appear that a level of common sense was not adopted when dealing with people from the Commonwealth countries, coupled with the lack of appreciation of Britain’s role as an Empire State or colonial ruler.
“Therefore, since the exposure of the Windrush scandal we have assisted in building a bridge between victims and the Home Office, and we have assisted many families in obtaining status – and I do say families as well, as unfortunately this has impacted not just on individuals but also families.
“We have also assisted compensation claims, welfare support, and reintegration support coupled with trauma support – as one thing which is not appreciated is many people have seen their lives destroyed in front of them and as a direct result they have become withdrawn from society. Some have also developed mental health issues, particularly after losing their lifelong careers.”
In your view, what is left to be done to support people from the Windrush generation?
“There’s a lot still to be done, for the simple reason as we delve into the impact of the Windrush scandal we are finding that youngsters born in the UK after 1983… if their parents had a status issue this then has a knock on effect to them. We’ve had recent cases of where 16 year olds have been asked to produce a British passport to go to college and they have been unable to do so as their parents’ status have been called into question, and currently they are going through the scheme as well.
“In addition to this, health and well-being support needs to be looked at more carefully and we are now picking up the additional thematics such as poor housing, mental health issues, worker’s rights, and health inequalities as a result of being denied access to GP surgeries.
“It was disappointing that recommendation which talks about truth and reconciliation was withdrawn, as this would have helped to develop greater understanding of the social impact that the hostile environment has exposed people who are British to – for simply not having documentation.”
“I see the award as an acknowledgement by the establishment of the work which has been done and that needs to be done. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t stop until we get the end result, and that’s what it’s all about; they know who they are giving this award to, and let’s be clear it won’t change who I am.
“However, I had to reflect upon the sacrifices that my family have to make sometimes when I’m not around and also give honour to my mother as well, who was made a widow when I was 11 years old and had to bring five children up on her own.”
In your campaigning, over Windrush and other causes, you’ve had to engage with establishment organisations from the Home Office to local police services. How do you get the voice of the community heard?
“You have to be persistent when you want your voice heard, and you need to stick to the narrative as well. There are times when you will not be popular, there are times when people would describe you as a glorified pain, but there you go. You have to keep going and that’s what I’ve done over the years, keep going – but one thing, stand by the truth.”
Where do you find the strength to do what you do?
“Faith as a Bishop; He is all that means a lot to me and has kept me going, particularly through the recent illness which I had. When you think the game is over, it is just beginning…”
“Yes. We have revamped the blink control scheme and sessions, and we’re getting greater community involvement now and we intend to extend this accordingly. It has taken a while to revamp as we do not receive funding for this, so we’ve had to develop greater awareness of it. But we do intend to develop this further because it’s about saving lives and that’s the important issue.
“However, we do see the importance of having simplified access to bleed control kits as well and there is no point placing bleed control kits in communities without training. So, we’ve developed our training programme we intend to develop that even further within the next few months – and let’s be clear, Kingstanding and Erdington are definitely on the agenda.”
From the work you do, how bad is the knife and gun crime in our city?
“Knife crime and gun crime at the moment, in my view, is out of control in the city – particularly knife crime, because those that carry knives now… to them it is just like putting their trainers on before they go out.
“There’s a lot of work to be done on this, and more joined up work would be far beneficial than work that produces reports but no tangible outcome.”
“We are coming across more families where disaffection is setting into the locality, alongside them feeling left behind by the authorities under charge. In some cases, some feel that there is a lack of representation and that their voices are not being heard.
“There is a change in donor graphic in the area as well, which will bring forward new challenges which will just exacerbate the pre-existing issues. Currently, educational underachievement and the cost of living crisis are plunging more families into poverty and increasing crime rates. Violent crime is fast becoming an issue, and also the ever increasing HMOs which brings its own social issues.
“I just feel the development of community forums to ensure that people have their own independent voice is essential, for which one has been formed in Kingstanding and will be launched very shortly.”
You supported the family of Dea John Reid after he was fatally stabbed in broad daylight on College Road, whilst working to maintain peace in the area and stop further violence. What is the best way to keep a community together?
“We launched a project called We Live As One, which is still ongoing, and alongside that there is the development of community forums and a strategy being developed with short term, medium term, and long term plans for the area.
“The things we must not lose sight of are, with the changing demographic, on born racial lines and age lines within the vicinity – this will of course bring additional issues and it’s important that we start developing greater community cohesion in order that people share issues, share solutions, and implement solutions as a community, and importantly that they have ownership of this as well.”
And as a born and raised Brummie, and a Bishop heavily involved in his community, what are the positives of the area that perhaps don’t get enough celebration?
“I was born in Handsworth but have lived in Kingstanding for the past 26 years; my children have grown up here and some are born in Kingstanding.
“Kingstanding is a vibrant community, and following the tragic events of last year with the gas explosion it showed the real tenacity of the community when they all came out to assist those that were caught up in the various losses.
“We need to demonstrate this every day of the week in our lives, and there are challenges. However, I think when the chips are down communities rally together and Kingstanding is no different to that –it tells me there is hope and together we can create a brighter future.”
If people want to get involved in any of the community work you organise and support, what should they do?
“Anyone who wants to get involved please email me directly at email@example.com – it is an open house.”
For more on Bishop Desmond Jaddoo MBE visit www.desjaddoo.org.uk
For more on The Windrush Movement (UK) visit www.facebook.com/windrushmovement