As the deadline looms for the Home Office decision on the fate of Rev. David Tomlinson and family’s 19-year-old foster son and brother, the petition to keep ‘Stephen’ (not his real name) to remain in the UK has passed 106,000 signatures.
“Following the death of his only relative when he was 8 years old,” says petitioner David Reynolds, “’Stephen’ was homeless and living on the streets in his native Vietnam where he fell prey at age 10 to a criminal gang who trafficked him to the UK aged 16 to serve as a slave labourer.”
He was rescued by the authorities in Tyneside and placed into foster care before eventually being adopted by Rev. Tomlinson, his wife, Davina and their daughter Naomi.
In a plea to petitioners this week, Naomi said: “It’s incredible how many people have got behind this case to pressure the Government into reversing this decision and allowing Stephen to stay in the country.
“It breaks my heart the thought of him being taken away and sent back to a country where he knows no-one and has nothing.
“He needs to stay in my family, a family who love and care about him, we can’t lose this case!
“Please, continue to share this petition, help us to get to the 100,000 mark by the time his case goes to court in 7 days, help us to keep him in my family where he belongs and in the community he calls home!”
Mr Reynolds, a Shildon Town Councillor added: “Since becoming part of the family, ‘Stephen’ has been able to acquire basic school education, evolved from a quiet and vulnerable child into a helpful and kind young man and reclaimed his life from his former captors. Now aged 19, he has not only a new family in our welcoming community, but has made friends and found a girlfriend.
“He has also adopted the Christian faith, a factor which places him at risk of state persecution in his former country if, as the Home Office currently intend, he is forced to return to Vietnam.”
Stephen’s appeal hearing is set to take place on 5th February.
The petition can be signed at https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/allow-shildon-s-stephen-to-stay-in-uk.