If everything was fine, people wouldn’t wouldn’t leave family to go through this
We spoke to Bukola about the fight for her stay in the UK.
"I came to the UK in 2015 with my two daughters who were 14 and 7 years old. We travelled from my country, Nigeria, landed in London and then got the coach to Manchester. Since then we have been fighting for our stay and it has been so hard. I have faced a lot of barriers.
"When we first came I found it difficult to enrol my children in school, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know that charities or the council could help me.
"I was crying on the bus one day and a man said that he would help me ring some schools. I got an appointment with a school but I found it very difficult because they were asking so many questions that I didn’t understand and documents that I didn’t have.
"I tried some other schools and they told me I would need to go through the council. Initially I thought everything was going to be fine because they gave my eldest daughter a place in the school. But my little one didn’t get one. The council said that they needed the passport that I used to get her into the country. I didn’t know the reason but I thought they might want to see if the name on the birth certificate corresponds with the name on the passport. It was a very worrying time because I didn’t know why they needed all the information but eventually they gave her a place.
"I was trying to do my best as a mum but there were lots of problems with where we were living. The people we were staying with were tired of us being there. They weren’t family so it was a really rough time. We were living from place to place. We would be somewhere for two days then we would have to move on. I didn’t feel like I could settle down.
"The children were never absent from school, but I was struggling for money, I couldn’t afford their lunch money some days. I didn’t know how to open up to the school about our situation because I was scared. But the school knew and eventually I talked to them about it. They told me I should seek asylum but I was worried because so many people said that they would just deport us. I couldn’t risk being sent back.
"Then the Home Office found out about our situation.
"I feel emotional talking about that time because it was so hard to deal with the stress and the worry for my daughters. I have counselling and medication to help with my mental health now but at that time my mental health was really high.
"We were living in a shared house in one small room but we had to share a toilet with the rest of the house. There were lots of men coming in and out and the place was a mess. There were rats. It didn’t feel safe.
"One day very early in the morning, immigration were knocking on the front door at around 6am. I remember the time because children were already awake and getting ready for school. When the immigration officers came to our room I told them my situation and why I left my country. They told me I had the option of dealing with Social Services or the Home Office. I didn’t know anything about Social Services or how it works so I thought I should just deal with the home office.
"They took our fingerprints, scanned our eyes and did all the paperwork, they told us we wouldn’t be going back to that house. They moved us to a hotel and we lived there for a long time. Later they found us a house on our own and I was so grateful because I thought everything would get better.
"But it hasn’t.
"I claimed asylum and told them everything that happened to me and why I fled my country with my children. I couldn't remember all the dates of when things happened because my mental health was so bad then, I was losing it completely, so the government didn't accept my claim.
"My case is not looking good. I have been to court twice, I have been to tribunal and I am very worried because I can’t find a legal aid lawyer. I don’t know what to do.
"I go to the Home Office reporting centre but that place is like a trap. I have known many people in my situation who have gone there to report but then you don’t see them back in the community again. They are sent to prison and then deported. I am afraid that might happen to me.
"I don’t sleep and I worry every day because I don’t know what is going to happen to us. If everything was fine, people wouldn’t leave their country. They wouldn’t leave all their family behind and go through all this."
We have managed to find a solicitor who will help Bukola make a fresh application on the basis of her child who was born in the UK. The normal Home Office Fees would be over £3000, but the solicitor will request a fee waiver application first for all three. If granted, they would then have 28 days to make the 3 further leave to remain applications. So, that is 2 applications per person and 6 applications in total.
We are looking to raise £800 which will cover the reduced fees Bukola's solicitor has agreed to charge. If the solicitors fee waiver application is unsuccessful we will need to raise well over £3000.
Can you help support Bukola's fight for her stay?