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Fundraiser launched for Windrush victim’s funeral

WINDRUSH VICTIM: Sarah O'Connor (left) with her daughter Stephanie

A FUNDRAISING campaign has been launched for the funeral of a victim of the Windrush scandal.

Sarah O’Connor, who was deemed an illegal immigrant by the Home Office and fought a long battle to be recognised as a British citizen, died at her home last Sunday.

Her daughter, Stephanie, is appealing for donations to pay for the funeral of her mum whose fight over her immigration status left her facing bankruptcy.

Stephanie told HuffPost UK that her mother wasn’t suffering from any known illnesses and that she believed the stress of the scandal had contributed to her death.

“There’s only so long you can fight for,” Stephanie told the publication. “As far as we are all aware she wasn’t ill and so that’s why her death has been even more shocking.

“I definitely feel that the scandal took a toll on mum, physically and mentally. It drained her. Before the whole situation came to light it felt like you were trapped in a vicious cycle.”

It is believed that O’Connor died of natural causes. A postmortem is due to held on Friday to confirm the cause of death.

O’Connor’s daughter also opened up about how her mother’s death had impacted the family.

“It’s been really difficult.

“The last few days have felt like months. As it wasn’t expected, there are so many things I wish I could say to her but more importantly – I’d just like for her to give me a hug.

“All your life, your mum is the one that makes things better, but for the most heartbreaking feeling in the world there’s nothing she can do and that’s the most difficult thing to come to terms with.

“Our mum is no longer here,” she said in the HuffPost UK interview.

O’Connor, one of the faces of the Windrush scandal, came to the UK aged six. She went on to marry a British citizen and have four children in the UK. However immigration officials categorised her as an illegal immigrant.

Stephanie said that she plans to scatter her mothers ashes somewhere hot such as Jamaica or Hawaii, two destinations her mother longed to visit but was unable to as she was prevented from obtaining a passport prior to her naturalisation.

She said her mother deserved to “rest in peace – something that she couldn’t do in life. After everything she has done and been through she deserves that!”

Windrush Generation rights campaigner Patrick Vernon has set up the fundraiser with the O’Connor family.

He urged people to make a donation or leave a message of condolence on the page.

Sanchia Alasia, the first woman of Caribbean heritage to become the mayor of Barking and Dagenham presented O’Connor with her naturalisation documents at the end of July before she died.

On the crowdfunding page, she wrote: “I gave Sarah her naturalisation certificate at her citizenship ceremony as the mayor of Barking and Dagenham. So sad for this loss.”

For more information on the crowdfunder, click Hyperlink Code.

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