Families back school caretaker’s battle to remain in UK with sons

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HUNDREDS OF families have given their support to a school caretaker in his fight to remain in the UK.

Father-of-three Portas Ongondo, a superintendent at Lady Hastings School in Collingham near Wetherby, is facing deportation to Kenya following the breakdown of his marriage.

But members of the community have vowed to ensure he is not separated from his sons and is able to remain in the UK. Almost 400 people signed an online petition to back his bid to stay in the country and about 150 supporters turned out to Collingham and Linton Sports Association to demonstrate their support.

Parent Claire Strachan said: “He is the heart and soul of Lady Hastings, and we all want him to stay.”

Mr Ongondo, who has worked at the school for five years, claimed he cannot bear to be parted from his three sons, and said: “My life is around my sons. If I have to be somewhere where my sons are not, my life would be empty.”

Emmanuel, 19, Gerald, 22 and Sylvester, 25, are classed as adults and are not recognised as “dependents”. But Mr Ongondo claimed they still rely on him for support and guidance. The 55-year-old left a job with the United Nations in Kenya to came to the UK to support his wife who was working here as a nurse.

But his right to live and work in the UK is dependent upon his relationship with his wife, which has recently broken down. His application to stay has been refused and he has been denied permission to appeal.

A Home Office spokesman said: “All applications are considered on their individual merits.”