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Community rallies round family facing deportation back to South Africa
9:22am Wednesday 1st January 2014 in News
“THE community is behind us”.
That’s the defiant message of a Southampton family threatened with deportation.
Francis and Matty Scorgie, and their daughter Franchelle, have been told they could be deported from the country as soon as tomorrow – despite having worked and lived here for nearly ten years.
The Home Office refused the family, who live in Howards Grove, Shirley, permission to stay in the UK under legislation requiring them to have lived in the country for 20 years.
They were issued a letter on behalf of the Home Office just before Christmas informing them they no longer have the right to stay in the country.
Now a petition urging authorities to grant the family a reprieve has more than 100 signatures from friends and members of the community.
Francis, 54, moved from Potchefstroom in South Africa in 2004 on a work permit with his wife and daughter acting as dependents.
He has since achieved a university degree and undertaken agency work, whileMatty, 52, and Franchelle, 21, have worked in administration roles for the NHS at the Princess Anne Hospital in Southampton.
But an application to renew their stay in the UK was refused by the Home Office.
It states an applicant must have lived continuously in the UK for at least 20 years, or be a person aged between 18 and 25 years old who has spent at least half their life living continuously in the UK.
The government body also deems the family still have ties in their home country asMrScorgie spent 45 years of his life there.
However, Mr Scorgie told the Daily Echo the family has no ties in South Africa as his sister lives in Taunton.
He claims his wife and daughter have been unable to work since April due to the refusal, while Mr Scorgie has been stopped from working since October.
The family have been relying on donations from the food bank, while Mrs Scorgie keeps herself busy by volunteering for Christian Aid.
Mr Scorgie told the Daily Echo: “We are not allowed to work, we don’t qualify for benefits, we have nowhere to turn.
“I will have been in this country for ten years but they expect it to be 20 years, or have lived half your life in the country to qualify.
“It’s outrageous and very cruel.
We did everything we could possibly do. My wife has been working for the NHS for nine years, and we have been living in this house all that time.
“We paid our way, we paid our taxes, and we never claimed benefits.”
He added: “The whole of Christmas was a nightmare – we couldn’t celebrate it because we were worrying about it. In the Queen’s speech, she said people would be welcome that make a contribution to the country – and that’s what we do.”
Paul Thaxter, a member of St James’ Church, which the family attends, said they are an “asset to the community”.
He added: “They have been here so long nowand it’s very difficult for them to go back to another life.
“The immigration laws have changed frequently over the last few years and people are left wondering what to do. Francis has been involved in social care in the past and has looked after people, and they have always been able to find work.”
He said: “The main question is why were they served this notice when they are in active correspondence with us?
“The latest correspondence as I understand it is that we asked for an urgent update on their position because of the concerns about deportation.”
A Home Office spokesperson said all applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the immigration rules.
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