Seacombe family ‘overwhelmed’ after thousands raised in Home Office legal fight

A Seacombe family is “so overwhelmed” after £21,000 was raised in hours to support their legal fight against the Home Office.

Nelson Shardey moved to the UK in 1977 as an accountancy student from Ghana and has now lived and worked in the country for over 46 years. He has three adult children and in 1991, he set up Nelson’s News on Borough Road in Seacombe where he worked long hours for 31 years.

In 2019, Nelson found out that he was not a British citizen, coming as a shock to him and his family. They are currently taking legal action against the Home Office but will have to pay their legal fees if the family lose the case.

He’s been described as a local legend and also saved a friend from a baseball bat attack. The community in Seacombe once rallied behind him after he was burgled.

He told the LDRS, “All along, I regarded myself as a citizen. I had a bank account, I bought everything on credit. Nobody questioned my citizenship. I was called up on jury duty. I don’t see any difference between me and everybody.”

He continued, “To be honest with you, I cried indoors when the children weren’t around. I would come out full of smiles as myself. I wouldn’t show it but I was really really shocked.”

Nelson was initially granted 2.5 years limited leave to remain and start on a 10 year route to permanent settlement. However, due to a mistake in renewing this application, he lost his status. He was also undergoing treatment for prostate cancer at the time.

The family were then told to go through the Windrush Scheme in 2022, but this was later rejected. In 2023, the family were told to then start the 10 year route to settlement again which could cost £18,000 and result in Nelson not getting citizenship until his mid-80s.

The family is being represented by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit who said Nelson’s case was “quite unique, not just because of the length of time he has been a resident, but for all he has achieved”.

The Home Office said it would not be appropriate to comment on active legal proceedings.

Since the story was reported by the LDRS as well as the BBC, The Guardian, and other publications, the family’s Go Fund Me has already raised more than £21,000 in just a few hours with one anonymous donor contributing £5,000 and another giving £2,000. The total is now more than their target.

Aaron Shardey, one of Nelson’s sons, said, “I was really nervous about asking people to donate, I do not like asking for stuff but I am so overwhelmed. It almost feels like a bit of a dream. I can’t get my head around the reaction it’s received.”

Aaron, who previously worked in the civil service, said, “I had no idea this was going to be what it has become. I would hope that this sends a message. With any policy that is sensitive like immigration and general migration, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.

“There are people behind those numbers. That should be the message that is sent to them. The impact this has on the people going through this.”

He said nobody contacted his dad to let him know about his status, adding, “People were still arriving lawfully but then their circumstances changed. People just settled and just went about their lives. That is exactly what Dad has done. I would find it astonishing if this was to continue because the reaction speaks for itself.”

Aaron and the family previously said they had repeatedly tried to get help from Wallasey MP Angela Eagle over the case. She told the LDRS that Nelson should be given permanent status in the UK, adding, “Nelson’s treatment by the Home Office has been appalling, and my sympathies continue to be with him and his family. This is yet another example of an under-resourced Home Office wreaking havoc on an entire family.”

She added, “I have long known him as a highly respected and active local community member and business owner. I am disappointed to hear that Nelson and his family feel the support my team have provided has not been sufficient.

“It is certainly true that thus far it has not been successful in resolving his situation. Given that immigration advice is heavily regulated and subject to legal restriction, neither myself nor my staff are able to offer advice on immigration cases, and it is right that Nelson’s case is being dealt with by his legal team who are appropriately qualified to support him.”

If the family win the case, there will be no legal costs and the donations will be given to Wirral Foodbank and the Boaz Trust. A link to the fundraiser can be found here

Image: Mr Shardey outside his former shop in Seacombe. Credit: Ed Barnes

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