Leeds caretaker set to leave UK with a ‘heavy heart’

Portas Ongondo with his supporters in Collingham
Portas Ongondo with his supporters in Collingham
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A much-loved school caretaker who has lost his battle to remain in the UK is preparing to return home to Kenya.

Parents of youngsters at Collingham Lady Elizabeth Hastings School and members of the local community fought a determined campaign, gathering more than 1,000 signatures on a petition supporting Portas Ongondo’s right to stay.

He was desperate to remain, saying he could not bear to be parted from his three grown-up sons.

But the 55-year-old’s right to live and work in the UK was dependent upon his relationship with his wife, which has broken down.

Campaigner Claire Strachan said the grandfather had made the decision to leave “with a heavy heart” but “living with the prospect of being forcibly removed to a detention centre at any time” was unbearable for him.

She said: “He has therefore decided he has no choice but to return to Kenya, and to try and submit another application from there.”

She added: “We have watched a well-loved and important member of our community lose everything that meant anything to him, and he is now going to lose regular contact with his family in the UK that he has fought so hard to stay with.”

Parents of pupils at the school are now launching a fundraising campaign to support Mr Ongondo on the next chapter of his life as he fears he will have little prospect of securing a new job in Kenya at his age.

He thanked his supporters for their efforts, adding: “Having lost the right to earnings, I have been left with no purpose to meaningful livelihood.”

Elmet and Rothwell MP Alec Shelbrooke, who has also been supporting Portas, said he had written to Home Secretary Theresa May and would seek further advice when Parliament returns on Monday.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with the Immigration Rules.”

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