A distraught daughter today made an emotional plea for donations towards legal costs as her elderly and poorly mum faces deportation back to South Africa.
Maria Stanton, 81, has been living with daughter Leslie-Ann Gibson in Sunderland for the past year after falling ill.
Leslie-Ann and other family members paid for her to travel over to Wearside and her health has greatly improved since then.
However, Maria, a grandmother-of-four and great-grandmother-of-three, who suffers from chronic asthma and also had an irregular heartbeat, has now been told that her application for UK residence has been refused and she will have to return to the sub-continent, something which her family feel will have detrimental effect on her health.
The Home Office has however said that people applying for a European Economic Area (EEA) residence card “must” be the dependent of an EEA national, which Maria is not.
During her life Maria has set up charities and also created an overnight shelter for children in South Africa.
Leslie-Ann, 55, who has lived in England for the past 16 years, told the Echo: “She has no pension and no prospects in South Africa and she’d be far away from me, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“We told her to come over to England for a holiday and a bit of a break and she has improved greatly since then but we’d be very concerned for her future if she had to go back.
“She has gained about 15 kg since being here, her health has improved and her stress levels reduced dramatically.
“She’s been really integrated into Sunderland since she came here too.
“She’s been very active, going to a Methodist church and knitting clubs.
“My mum has a real routine now and we don’t want that to change.”
The family have now raised almost £1,000 towards a £3,000 target which will pay for legal costs as part of a judicial review to look into if Maria, who is from the city of East London in South Africa, can stay in the country.
“We’re hoping that we can take this to court so that a judge will reconsider her case and let her stay,” added Leslie, who said the recent Windrush scandal has inspired her to try and get the initial decision about her mum overturned.
“I was very moved to see on the news, two days after we heard the outcome, an 81-year-old Jamaican woman being reunited with her family in London, following the Windrush scandal, which is such a hot topic at present.
“This lady’s son spoke about how worried he had been with her being in Jamaica for the past eight years, having been declined the right to return, and how ill she had been with the family powerless to assist her in a meaningful way.
“I thought to myself: ‘I could say all of those things about my mum’.”
The money needs to be raised by June 21.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “All applications are considered in line with the immigration rules and on the basis of the information provided.
“In order to qualify for an EEA residence card the applicant must be the dependent of an EEA national.”