Jennifer and Veronica

'Nowhere to go' - my mum had dementia and was denied a British passport

Veronica Tobias was born in the Caribbean but had lived in the UK for decades. Despite having a diagnosis of vascular dementia and a hurricane destroying the country of her birth, the government still wanted to deport her. Her daughter Jennifer tells an astonishing story.

My mother Veronica is 81. She grew up in the Commonwealth of Dominica, and moved to Paddington, London when she was 21.

In 1982, after a lifetime in the UK, my parents returned to Dominica to take care of my father’s parents.

In 2016 – four years after my father passed away – I got a call at work, notifying me of concerns relating to my mother’s memory. By January of the next year, she’d been diagnosed with vascular dementia.

It began 18 months of uncertainty, horror and fear.

The right to remain

I flew to Dominica and returned to the UK with my mother so she could spend time with me. During her stay her passport expired. I applied for her replacement British passport, but was notified by the Home Office that she was not entitled to a British passport and her stay in the UK would be of a limited period.

My mother unfortunately joined the thousands of other individuals who fell victim to the Windrush Scandal.

While I was busy addressing my mother's care, it was confirmed that she didn't have a right to a British passport. This automatically affected her right to remain in the UK.

Dominica was then traumatised by the worst hurricane to hit the island. This resulted in considerable damage to my mother’s home. So the option of her returning to Dominica at some point had been taken from her as well.

She had nowhere to go – but she, a 79-year-old woman with dementia - was being told that she couldn’t stay with me, either.

Hitting the headlines

Finally, in 2018, the Windrush scandal hit the headlines, and the Home Office backed down. My mother received her British passport along with her right to remain in the UK.

When I was going through all of this, and looking after Mum at the same time, I remained afraid to share the extreme pressure l was going through.

Our dementia advisers are here for you.

I rang the Alzheimer’s Society in Hackney, and I cried and talked and cried and talked. And they never judged me. They never told me what I should do. They listened. 

And that is what I really needed. They let me talk.

People with dementia need to be treated like human beings. It hurts me when people do things like talking to me instead of to my Mum. 

Veronica Tobias

Veronica moved to London when she was 21

Joy and wisdom

My mother is a unique individual and a remarkable human being. 

She does more exercise than I do. She is at classes three times a week and goes to Singing for the Brain! She can even do Zumba.

My mother’s respect and deep affection for her environment, continues to energize her. She can identify all the birds around Dominica. Even now, she finds it hard to pass a flower without smelling it. 

My mother provides me with a deep seated wisdom, that l respect and am truly appreciative of. She has given me a wealth of joy, and she still gives me joy.

If you have a question about dementia or need some support, call our helpline to speak with our expert advisers, or join Dementia Talking Point to chat with other people in your situation. 

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Hi everyone I’m struggling at the moment i have been caring for residents living with dementia for 30 years my situation has reversed my mom has advanced dementia and I am not coming well with this situation I don’t seem to be not at work if you know what I’m trying to say I feel really bad that I feel this well I can support family with their situation why am I finding it so hard

Hi Pauline, we're very sorry to hear about your mum. But please know you're not alone in this and that we're here to support you. 

We'd recommend that you call our support line on 0333 150 3456 to speak with one of our trained dementia advisers. They can listen, discuss your situation in more detail and offer specific advice. You can find more details about the support line (including opening hours and other methods of contact) here:

You may also find it helpful to join our online community, Talking Point. Here, carers and other people affected by dementia share their experiences and offer advice to others going through similar situations. You can browse topics within the community or sign up to join the conversation: . It’s open day or night and free to use.

We hope this helps for now, Pauline. Please do call our support line.

Alzheimer's Society web team

Such a very sad story but which ended happily in the end. My own mother had dementia too!. And I had to see her day by day just slipping away from me. It's really heartbreaking for the person you love. And for those left behind

This is such a sad story, Glad that it has had a positive ending.

This is a pathetic story but I am glad it ends well I really like your courage to share your story, maybe with stories like this the government will come out with blueprint on dementia , I and my sister took my mum home to help her a bit maybe seeing her sisters and brothers could bring some memory back but she passed she did not even spend up to 3months

Hi I.have vacular dementia and suffering memory loss I am also have diabetes and and newoperthy my walking is very and have to use a wheelchair and seeing other people with demientia and how they cope gives me a lift thank you

People in government are so ruthless.

Touching story. Thanks to Dementia Friends and all the wonderful work. The Government needs to look and see all the folks that work so hard deserved to be treated with respect and fairly.

Your love for your mother oozes from your story. ❤️ I am deeply ashamed to be associated with this country when I hear stories like your mother’s. She no doubt came over to this country at the request of the Government of the time to fill jobs others would not do. To have that hard work and contribution cast aside and forgotten is utterly deplorable as is treating her so appallingly when at her most vulnerable. Long may she sing and dance. Love to you both. Xx

My mother passed away 4yrs this coming January from this dreadful disease after having it for about 10-12 yrs. So my heart goes out to this mother and daughter. If they have been here all them years contributing to this country then there is no way she should be removed from her "home". 😡😡👎🏻👎🏻

My mother passed away in 2008 from vascular dementia, she was 93. Thank god she had a family to support her over the last 3 years of her life. She had worked all her life up until the age of 70 reared 5 children I the youngest now 66. At the age of 90 I tried to contact crossroad for help, your society sent me pamphlets on dealing with this dreadful condition. My saviour was Liverpool Council the doctor did want to know, saying what do you expect your mother is 90. It was due to the Council that their carers society sent me on a course for cares and my mother attended a day centre for 2 hours a week. That was the only help! Fortunate my brothers would travel to give me a break to go shopping and comfort my mother in her time of need. She had come through the second world war age 20 rearing her family. This was only time she needed help as she never wanted to be a burden.

I am glad Dementia Friends have posted this story.

However Black History Month should be Black History Month.

This is quite tragic news-how can this home-office be so cruel and deny one who has been in the UK for many years a British-Passport, after all she has done no-one any wrong whatsoever, I am on your side and would like to help you to help your mum get her passport given to her so that she can continue to remain in the UK permanently thank you.

Last time I saw my mum, she was in a home,in bed, curled up.She did not take any notice of me,she did not know me, BUT when my dog came around the bed and put her cold, wet noose on my mum,s ,mum said" Hallow".I had to laugh.
The government has to answer for a lot of alzheimer's,allowing fluoride in our drinking water.After years it has now ,quietly been taken out too late for a lot of us.

Feel very ashamed of this country and our Governments for treating your Mum and you and your family in this way.
Living with Dementia is hard enough for all concerned and no outside pressures like this can ever be justified.
I apologise for the UK's Governments who have allowed this to happen
Would this have been allowed to happen if any of our Politicians families had to endure this treatment ? I sincerely doubt it.

I work in a high care & low care dementia facility in Sydney, Australia. I am so pleased to hear this mother & daughters story ended well. Governments can be so misguided in their efforts particularly in understanding what families go through in helping their loved one's. They sit on their backsides pushing their pens but are never at the grassroots of this global issue. Govts need to do more in assisting families experiencing these issues. Such a sad story but a very happy ending.