Institute for Global Health


The Ties That Bind

Mapping the intergenerational mental health consequences of the Windrush Scandal and hostile immigration policies within Black African and Caribbean families in the UK.

Group outside of Downing Street

Project Summary

This project is one of the first of its kind to explore the intergenerational mental health consequences of the Windrush scandal on Caribbean and Black African families. Victims of the Windrush Scandal endured forced detention, a loss of employment, housing and livlihoods and were forcibly separated from families. They often continue to have negative experiences as a result of hostile immigration policies. 

Using mental health questionnaires and photovoice methods, this study seeks to document and improve the mental health services provided to these families. This intergenerational study will work with 20 families affected by Windrush over a period of six months to explore mental health challenges via survey methodologies, alongside an action research photovoice project.  Our work will map perspectives and realities of living through this crisis within families and wider communities. 

The results of the photovoice project will be shared  via a public and online exhibition in collaboration with The UCL Health of the Public Creative Health Community. A policy roundtable will be held to engage survivors, academics and policy makers to raise awareness and encourage support and change.

Find out more on our website: https://www.thetiesthatbind.co.uk/

Prof. Patrick Vernon, Health systems equity advocate, Windrush Campaigner and co-Principal investigator of The Ties that Bind project 

 "How can we, as Windrush generation members and descendants, hope to rebuild our mental health, and imagine our lives in a place where there is no real recognition of how the hostile environment and the Windrush scandal damages our mental and emotional health? Projects like this are desperately needed, if we are to ever break the cycle of poor mental health faced by many in our society."

Dr. Rochelle Burgess, Associate Professor in Global Health, and Principal Investigator of  TheTies that Bind project  

"The Windrush Scandal is a heart breaking example of the interactions between state-orchestrated oppression, the violence of borders, and the way that Black life is seen as expendable. It cuts to the heart of the ways that systems strip people of home, humanity, place, and personhood. But discussion of mental health are totally absent from our responses - despite evidence suggesting that good mental health is impossible in the absence of these things. It is an honour to be able to work with Patrick, Dawn, and our partners at Windrush Lives and The Wolverhampton Windrush Legal Advice Clinic, to document the mental health consequences this has had on victims, and the ripple effects of this scandal through families, Black communities and society" 

Professor Stephani Hatch , NHS Race and Health Observatory Board Member and Co-Chair, Academic Reference Group

"This project rightly keeps the racialised experiences and trauma impacting the mental health of those directly affected by the Windrush scandal and their families at the forefront of the minds of the public, healthcare professionals and policymakers.  Building on globally generated evidence showing the pervasive and deleterious impact of witnessing and experiencing racism and discrimination on mental health, this work will undoubtedly add to the growing evidence on the social and health consequences of current immigration policies, and be an impetus for sustainable change."

Anthony Bryan, Windrush Scandal Victim

"The Windrush scandal broke my world in two. I spent months wrongfully detained in detention centres, leading to the loss of my livelihood, my home. The things I have experienced during that time are not in the past - they are very much my present reality - Trauma like that doesn't just go away. There is very little concern or interest in the mental health needs of people who have survived the scandal - and I am excited by this project which tries to shed light on what we are living through, as we try to rebuild our lives"

Natalie Barnes, Daughter of Windrush Scandal victim Paulette Wilson and Windrush Campaigner

"The Windrush scandal has torn through the fabric of our lives. There is no way to explain how watching my mother's struggle for dignity, denied her by this state- broke our hearts, and fractured our worlds. Her passing is borne by our entire family, our community - and this grief, is made more difficult by the circumstances of her death."