Portas says farewell to supports before leaving for Kenya

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Children at Collingham Lady Elizabeth Hastings Primary School have said their final farewell to their caretaker Portas Ongondo before he leaves for Kenya in a few weeks.

In last Friday’s assembly that Mr Ongondo called ‘emotional’ 210 children were still asking why their caretaker has to leave the UK.

Having lost all appeals against the decision to take away his right to stay in the country and work at the school, Mr Ongondo told the Wetherby News he will be going back to Kenya, leaving two sons behind, in mid October.

He said: “The assembly was a very emotional day, but we held together. It was not a very easy time but we managed.

“If everything goes well I should be going away by the middle of October.

“It is not an easy situation and that will be hard for me, but there is nothing I can do to change it.

“I would like to apply again because I am leaving my family here and of course I want to be with my family. That is why I want to try again and ask them to reconsider and give me the chance to come back.”

Mr Ongondo’s solicitor Emma Brooksbank from Henry Hyam Solicitors said immigration rules are so restricted than even people in a relatively strong position like Portas have few options.

She said: “He either had the option of leaving the UK, and sadly with little prospect of returning, or remaining and making a further application, but we had to conclude that the prospects of that being successful were very low.

“He has therefore taken the very difficult decision to leave the UK, even though it would be very difficult to return.

“We have drawn a blank to a large extent and I think that is a symptom of the highly restricting nature of the immigration rules which mean that even though people like Portas who are net contributors and have close ties to the UK cannot stay.”

Mr Ongondo’s niece Celia, who attended the assembly, said: “The children’s desperate letters to save one of their own from deportation read at the assembly were particularly distressing and so were the uncontrollable sobs from the room.

“Yet Portas spoke words of encouragement to everyone and with a big smile on his face.

“To the Home Office my uncle Portas may be just a number that they plan to deport, to me he is an unsung hero, an extraordinary father and an outstanding member of a society.

“I remain hopeful that the Home Office will consider his case as the unique one that it is.”