A Zambian-born nurse who was due to be deported this week will be allowed to stay in the country.
Dianne Ngoza, 47, who has lived in Greater Manchester for 14 years, received support from human rights groups and Manchester MP Lucy Powell.
She was due to be flown out of the country on Wednesday but has now been told she can stay while her case is reviewed.
Just hours before the flight was set to depart, Ms Powell confirmed the news.
Mum-of-one Dianne moved to the UK in 2002 to work as a nurse – one of many overseas medical staff working in the NHS – before volunteering for a number of community organisations and churches.
But the 47-year-old was left destitute and had been forced to live in shelters across the region for many years.
Ms Powell said: “Dianne was due to be deported this afternoon at 5pm but I have been given confirmation this morning that has been deferred.
“She has still been detained and there is a question mark over what is going to happen next.
“We were all very anxious she was going to be deported today, so this is a small step in the right direction.
“I am hopeful that the minister will look at this case personally and at least give Dianne the option to appeal the decision from the UK.
“I will continue to put pressure on the Minister until all avenues have been exhausted.
Dianne’s friends and supporters had become increasingly worried about her weight loss and lack of a proper vegan diet in the detention centre in Bedford.
A Serco spokesman insisted Dianne had been given appropriate food after her ‘vegan requirements’ were noted on arrival.
Before she was detained Dianne took to social media where she posted the following:
My name is Dianne Ngoza, I am from Zambia. In 1994 I went to work in South Africa and was granted permanent residence there. In 2002, I was offered a two year work permit to work as a nurse in the UK. After six months, my 11 year old daughter came to join me.
In 2004, before my visa expired, I went to Liverpool to renew it. The immigration officer there told me to send my daughter, who was then 13, back to South Africa, and sort out her visa first. We couldn’t afford to do this.
When I sought legal help, my lawyer said that he was going to apply for both us to gain leave to remain under section 8 of the human rights act: right to family life. However he incorrectly applied for asylum instead – and this was unsurprisingly rejected. This whole process took four years, during which time I was forbidden from working. I became increasingly dependent on help from the community. My daughter remained with me all this time.
In 2008 new lawyers took over my case. Although they told me that they had made the application for my leave to remain, I never received a letter from the Home Office confirming this. Only in 2010 did the Home Office confirm that no application had been made on my behalf.
That same year, my child and I were evicted and became homeless. I have been destitute and homeless for the past six years.
Over the last three years, I have become involved in a variety of organisations: Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST), Manchester City Of Sanctuary, United For Change, Migrant Solidarity Group, Revive and, most recently, RAPAR. Through this activity, I have been given the opportunity to help other members who are in the same situation as me. I’ve recently been nominated for a Spirit of Manchester 2016 award.
I left Zambia 22 years ago and I don’t have any contact there; in fact, I have no network of social, family or work with anyone back in Africa. My residence permit for South Africa has expired. After such a long time, I don’t consider myself to be Zambian or South African: I consider myself British. I have no work experience in Africa and my qualifications from there are no longer valid. I only speak English and I don’t speak any African dialect.
My only surviving close family member, my daughter, resides in the UK with me. I am campaigning to exercise my right to family life under article 8 of the European Convention. I am asking for your help and support to urge the Home Office to respect my right to family life, so I can live with dignity in this country, working and taking care of myself, my daughter and others. Thank you.”