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'I'm proud to be a citizen of Wolverhampton': Delight as Gladstone wins fight to stay in the UK

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | News | Published: | Last Updated:

"I felt like giving up at one time but it's like my mum and brother were looking down on me and telling me to carry on – and now I'm glad I did."

Gladstone Wilson with the Union Jack

These are words of Jamaican Gladstone Wilson, who has won his seven-year fight to stay in the UK

The 62-year-old, who moved to the country when he was just 12, has finally been granted British citizenship 50 years after he first came to the UK as a member of the Windrush Generation.

It means he can now make the journey to Jamaica to visit the grave of his mother who died in 2014 and see his 90-year-old his father for the first time in 30 years.

Mr Wilson was finally given the status at a ceremony at the Civic Centre, Wolverhampton, after fighting since 2011 to prove he is a British citizen.

Gladstone Wilson with his proof of British citizenship

"Everything is clearer now. I've been to the ceremony and it's now proved that I've been granted stay in the UK," he said.

"I've got the right to be here. It's been a big weight off my shoulders. It's like a great relief.

"I get on with the people of Wolverhampton. I'm proud to be a citizen of Wolverhampton and I can't see any problem with being a citizen here.

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"I felt a lot calmer and more relaxed to know that a big weight has been lifted and it's made me more confident."

Mr Wilson arrived in the UK from Jamaica as a young boy in 1968 and one of his first memories was seeing real snow for the first time.

He said: "It was very strange, very weird. At the time when I first came it was in winter and I wanted to go back.

"I'm not used to this cold weather - I've never seen anything like it. My mum said I will get used to it and I did – I got used to it and the changes of winter and summer.

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"It was a strange situation coming from somewhere very hot and then you come into the country with a lot a snow on the ground.

"In Jamaica, we used to see snow on Christmas cards but to see it in person, it was very strange."

Mr Wilson lived with his parents on Springvale Street. He worked at a scrap yard after school and stayed in the city after his parents moved back to Jamaica for their retirement.

After leaving the scrap yard, he set his sights on becoming a security guard after wanting to do 'something interesting'.

Gladstone Wilson

He became a security guard at New Cross Hospital and held the role until his Security Industrial Authority (SIA) badge was revoked by the Home Office.

He received a letter from the Home Office in 2011 which said he had 'no basis' to stay in the country and the Home Office had no records of him.

Mr Wilson had to report to an immigration centre in Solihull or he faced up to six months in jail, a £5,000 fine or both.

During this time, Mr Wilson's mother died in 2014 and he was heartbroken at being unable to fly out to pay his respects. He described the time as being 'devastating'.

He said: "I've been stressed out for a long while and I've been taking tablets to keep my mood levels down. It's been a very long uphill struggle.

"The main pain I felt was when I couldn't go to my mother's funeral. It was devastating.

"I was unable to go because I wouldn't have been able to come back because of the situation concerning my British status in the UK.

Devastated

"I was devastated because my mother died on December 6 in 2014 and my elder brother died 25 days later on the December 31 over here.

"When I get everything sorted I will be able to pay my respects to her.

"It's been over 30 years since I saw my family over in Jamaica, as well. I've not seen my father in over 30 years – he's 90 and he is not very well at the moment."

Mr Wilson, who received help from the Refugee and Migrant Centre in Waterloo Road, said he felt like giving up but was spurred on by the memory of his family and the support from the local community.

He added: "I felt like giving up at one time but it's like my mum and brother were looking down on me and telling me to carry on and now I'm glad I did.

"I want to thank those who have helped me, all the people who work in the Migrant Centre and there's been a lot of support from the local community.

"This wouldn't have been possible without them – I couldn't do this on my own."

Memories

Despite going through the ordeal, however, Mr Wilson said he will be able to 'reflect' on it and the memories of meeting people in a similar position.

He said: "I can put all of this behind me and I can frame the documents and reflect on it and see how dreadfully I was treated when all this should never have happened.

"It will be a great memory. I can reflect on how I was so devastated, annoyed and angry and how everything has been resolved.

"It's been a good occasion to experience all of it and I've met a lot of people in the same position as myself and it's been a great relief."

Members of the Windrush Generation, who came from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1970, were wrongly detained and threatened with deportation because they were unable to prove their citizenship.

Mr Wilson said he wanted to thank the Afro-Caribbean Community Initiative, located on Newhampton Road East, for their support.

He said: "I do appreciate what staff have done for me.

"I want to thank Alicia Spence, the manager, for assisting me through this situation.

"I'm really grateful for all of their help."

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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