UPDATE: 16/03/12 – The Sheffield Star has reported that Gwendolyn Roomes has been deported. She boarded a flight from London Gatwick to the Jamaican capital, Kingston, at 12:15 pm today.
An online petition to stop Sheffield’s ‘singing lady’ Gwendolyn Roomes from being deported has reached 800 signatures. It has become the most signed petition of the month on Petition Online in under two days.
Roomes, 59, is known to many as Sheffield’s ‘singing lady’. She is a well-liked local who is often heard singing hymns on Fargate.
Detention and reprieve
The Sheffield Telegraph wrote on Tuesday that Roomes now faces extradition after her visa recently expired. Repeated attempts to renew her visa have been unsuccessful, and she could now be sent back to her home country of Jamaica.
Yesterday, the Sheffield Star reported that Roomes has been given a last minute reprieve whilst the Home Office review her case. She is currently being held in a detention center in London.
Roomes came to the U.K. to work as a supply teacher in 2002 through New Labour’s Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. She has worked in around 20 Sheffield schools.
Since her visa expired she has not been allowed to teach and cannot claim benefits.
Family ‘in shock’
Hayley Roomes is Gwendolyn Roomes’ step-daughter. In an interview with TGS News she said: “We cannot believe this is happening. We are still all in shock.
“She has followed everything by the book as the home office requested and still she’s been detained.
“We do not understand why they are treating her this way as she’s never done anything wrong in this country or even in her entire life.
“They allowed her to build a life here for almost a decade and then they stripped her bare.”
‘A decent, kind person’
Loxley resident Andy Wood, 35, is an aquaintance of Roomes’. He has created a Facebook page to rally support for the petition. He says:
“I’ve signed the petition because I think Gwen is a decent, kind person who has brightened people’s lives in Sheffield and she does not deserve to be locked up and forcibly deported because of a paperwork mistake by the Home Office.
“She’s played an actively contributing part in Sheffield life for 20 years and treating her like this whilst letting foreign criminals stay here because of their human rights sends entirely the wrong message about the sort of people we want to come and make Britain their home.”