10:30AM, Friday 17 November 2017
An urgent appeal has been launched to trace former pupils of a Maidenhead school who may be able to save an elderly homeless woman facing deportation.
Eleanor Rogers, 71, has been left sharing the basement room of a London hostel with three other women after being found sleeping rough at Victoria Railway Station.
As well as being unable to claim any help from the state, she could also be sent back to her native Sierra Leone after losing her paperwork in her time on the streets – despite having lived and worked in Britain since 1966.
Now Michael Ferguson, an immigration lawyer with the Cardinal Hume Centre, a homelessness charity, is asking anyone who might have known her during her time at Elmslie School, in Castle Hill, during the late 1960s who might be able to help prove her case.
“At that time Commonwealth nationals could freely come to the UK, it was very different to what the UK is like now, there was no visa application needed,” he said.
“Her father paid the school fees and she lived there for a couple of years and then in the UK continuously ever since, except to go back for a few holidays.”
She worked a variety of jobs, including secretary and seamstress and had two children in the 1970s.
The first, a son, was taken to America by his father and she became
estranged from her second child, a daughter, after she became pregnant while still at school.
This led to Ms Rogers, who may also have been known as Eleanor Rogerson while she was living in Maidenhead, having a mental breakdown and losing her home in Lambeth.
Since then she lived with relatives and in bed and breakfasts, but earlier this year was forced to resort to sleeping on buses and in train stations.
Mr Ferguson said: “It’s important to prove when she arrived and that she was in the UK before 1973 [which would allow her to stay] and if I can’t prove that then she is vulnerable to Home Office removal action.
“She is destitute, she has nothing, but if I can prove she has the right to remain her situation completely changes and she will be able to get housing, without that she will be left homeless.”
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