Sunday, 14 February 2010

Don't take your foot off the pedal - send this letter PLEASE!

I'm off on holiday for a few days so won't be blogging till I'm back. I just wanted to give a quick update on the situation with Florence and Precious Mhango. I'm a little bit worried that all the headlines from last week about them winning their High Court hearing (which means they can no go forward to a judicial review of their case) might make people think they're safe and / or there's nothing more ordinary members of the public can do. That's NOT the case - now is when we really can do something significant to help them.

I went round on Thursday evening to visit. Precious answered the door to me and gave me the biggest smile. She giggled when I remarked that it was the first time I'd seen her teeth but it's true, she's never smiled that broadly before. It was lovely to see. I would love to show you some photographs but they must be sick of being photographed. They are of course grateful for all the press coverage that's been so supportive of them but it's draining for them. So I was glad to be able to just pop by and NOT be clicking away on the camera.

Anyway it's good news for the moment and although it's highly significant, their fight is far from over. They have to win the judicial review and as the time grows closer the pressure will again start to build for both of them. Precious will be afraid to go to school again, they may have to raise the money for the review and before you know it they'll be suffering sleepless nights or nightmares again.

So, I've written to Alan Johnson the Home Secretary asking him to drop the legal objections and just grant them leave to remain. I think they've been through enough and let's face it, they've been here nearly 7 years, it seems a bit ridiculous to be sending them home now.

Anyway PLEASE, if you support their fight, don't see last week's victory as a reason to take your foot off the pedal. Below is a sample letter. Please either send it or something similar to Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary. It is not unknown at this stage for this to happen but the more we can help that decision along, the better. The sooner it happens the sooner they can get on with their lives.

Thanks for your support.

Your Name and Address

Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP
Home Secretary
Home Office
Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street


Dear Mr Johnson

Florence and Precious Mhango, Cranhill, Glasgow

You will be aware that the Mhango family have won full permission in the High Court to proceed to a full hearing regarding their claim for asylum.

I am writing to ask you to now consider dropping all the legal objections to their claim. I know you have to the power to use your discretion and I do not believe it would be asking too much, nor setting any precedents for you to drop the need for a judicial review and simply grant them indefinite leave to remain.

I believe Precious in particular has been through enough and the continuing pressure on her from never knowing how long she has got to be with her friends, how long it will be before she is locked up again and whether or not she will spend the rest of her life in Malawi or her home in Scotland.

There are a number of reasons why I believe Precious and her mum should be allowed to stay:

1) She has lived here for almost 7 of her 10 years and is fully integrated. She loves living in Glasgow and her friends and neighbours love her and see her as one of them.
2) There is no doubt that if returned to Malawi, Precious’ father’s family will claim her as is their legal right, and she will be parted from her mother.
3) In addition to the trauma of being parted from her mother, Precious will have to adjust to African life – the language barrier, the possibility of her education being ended in less that 2 years and the danger of being forced to go through female genital mutilation.

Yours sincerely


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