Tonika pictured with Martin Forde QC, Anthony Brown

Tonika pictured with Martin Forde QC (second left), who wrote the Compensation Scheme for the Home Office and Anthony Brown (centre), a Windrush victim and Chair of the Manchester Windrush Team

A Law student is spending her summer helping people affected by the Windrush scandal.

Tonika Stephenson, from Stockbridge Village, Knowsley, is part of the volunteer legal team tasked with working on the project at Manchester-based Crown & Law Solicitors, who are holding free law clinics with the objectives of helping people seeking citizenship and compensation from the government.

Windrush concerns the injustices suffered by immigrants who came over to the UK to help rebuild England after the Second World War. Many of those people, along with their descendants and the descendants of others, still suffer because they do not have, or did not apply for British citizenship.

The 32-year-old, who previously attended Knowsley College, will see her transport and parking costs covered by the Student Opportunity Fund – a key factor in her acceptance of volunteering on the project.

“Crown & Law assists with the legal issues that arise from the interviews conducted”, said Tonika. “This is particularly important because access to legal advice can be very expensive and time-consuming to attain through normal avenues. C&L provides hope for people in need by giving free initial legal advice.”

Her roles include interviewing members of the public under the Windrush Scheme as well as dealing with other legal problem queries, and gaining experience working in live legal environments while also developing her skills and CV.

Tonika was part of a meeting with MPs Kate Green and Lucy Powell

Tonika was part of a meeting with MPs Kate Green and Lucy Powell

Tonika believes first-hand experience has already been a positive in her learning and will stand her in good stead in whatever career direction she chooses to pursue.

“The placement has been an amazing opportunity. There have been many eye-opening moments, a few being the recognition of the plight people are in, what they have been through and the depth of the support needed.

“My course is going very well. I am hoping to be gainfully employed in a legal capacity after my degree. I do not have a dream job or role, but I do desire to help people in whatever capacity I can.”

Tonika’s work is also expected to benefit her fellow students, by advocating the benefits of seeking placements and the University’s support, and what can be achieved through fulfilling the placement.

“I’d be happy to chat to students about the fund and encourage them to apply at Scholarships events organised by the University, the Law Department and the Law Society.”

Her personal tutor, Senior Lecturer in Law Robert Collinson, added:

“This is an excellent opportunity for Tonika to develop the skills needed for a successful career in legal practice and thereby to significantly enhance her future employability.”

Find out you can apply for financial support from the Student Opportunity Fund here.