I want to thank everyone who has supported Florence and Precious Mhango in their attempts to stay in Scotland rather than be deported to Malawi. I have been very guilty of not keeping the blog updated in recent weeks but I've needed to devote all of my energy to supporting them.
As you will be aware from press coverage in recent days, the Home Office are determined to deport them before an appeal can be awarded (or not). It's only a couple more weeks but can the Home Office give them that? It seems not. Florence did not take the voluntary return option last Saturday. On that point, although I think the Scottish press have been superb in their support and coverage of this story, I wish some of them would be more careful in their wording. I read one headline that said something like "Precious defies Home Office".
Precious is ten years old, she's the least defiant child I've ever met and in any case, none of the decisions are hers. Even Florence isn't "defiant", just plain terrified. So if you are getting a picture of the two of them squaring up to the UK Border Agency, it's way off beam. I can tell you that tonight neither of them will sleep because they are so frightened that the UKBA will turn up at the door and detain them. They will be sleeping in the same bed clinging onto each other with fear - a mother unable to comfort and reassure her child that she's safe because she doesn't know if she is, a child who knows not to ask for something she cannot be given - knowing that soon they may be separated forever.
Think about it. Do you have children? Could you bear to be in their position? Could you stand to hold your child knowing that it may be the last time and that soon you may be left with only memories and the living nightmare of not knowing where they are or what is happening to them?
This is what Florence Mhango is facing. This is her living hell.
AND THE UK GOVERNMENT IS DOING THIS IN OUR NAME!
OUR NAME FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.
Don't let it happen. Please do whatever you can. It feels like the whole of Scotland has made it clear to the UK government that we want them here. When the First Minister writes a letter jointly with the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland - an unprecedented move - asking David Cameron to personally intervene, you are forced to wonder who they WILL listen to.
But if you feel like I do that we can't just sit back and do nothing, please add your name to the hundreds possibly thousands who've already contacted the Home Secretary Theresa May. Write to her (address on right hand panel of this blog) and tell her why you believe they should be allowed to stay. If you would like me to send you a letter which you simply need to add your name and address to, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll email it right back.
Whatever you do, please don't do nothing. There is a truly terrifed young woman right now who made the courageous move to take her child away from a violent domestic situation and who is being punished for it while her ex husband continues to live and work in the UK.
She needs you. And her daughter needs you. Please don't give up on them. Please help. Please do it now - time's running out.