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HomeCommunityVimal Pandya: Rotherhithe shopkeeper thanks community after fundraiser lets him appeal deportation

Vimal Pandya: Rotherhithe shopkeeper thanks community after fundraiser lets him appeal deportation

The Rotherhithe shopkeeper who is facing deportation despite his work for the community in lockdown has thanked the people who have enabled him to pay for yet another appeal.

Vimal Pandya, 41, has been through a series of administrative nightmares with the Home Office over the past eleven years, finally deciding to stay in the UK without permission. As we have reported, he has become a pillar of the local community, with the Queen’s representative thanking him for his support for vulnerable local people during the pandemic.

But he lost an appeal against a decision to deport him to India in January and was unsure about whether or not to go through yet another lengthy and costly legal process – having already spent about £40,000.

But since then a fundraiser set up by local people has raised more than £12,000 – which should cover the legal costs of this appeal.

Eleventh Hour Photography

“It’s incredible, all of this happening is out of my understanding,” Mr Pandya said. “I want to thank everyone who supported the fundraiser from the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate it so much, I could never have expected it.”

Eleventh Hour Photography

It comes after Mr Pandya and his supporters gathered outside the Home Office headquarters in Marsham Street and Downing Street on Saturday (January 29) for a peaceful protest against the decision to deport him. Mr Pandya said the protest had really improved his mood after the dejection of recent months. “I’m feeling really good, really positive,” he said.

Eleventh Hour Photography

After he was detained by the Home Office in 2021, he had to stop working at Halai General Stores in Rotherhithe and said he was also not allowed to volunteer. “Just one room is my life now. I’ve been feeling unwanted.” He helps friends with shopping and other tasks when they need him, and is also reliant on friends to support him. “I feel embarrassed… my life is very basic now,” he said.

The appeal process could last another ten months, and Vimal said he was worried about supporting himself, and his parents back in India.

“Everybody deserves a chance,” he said. “I firmly believe if I am given a chance, I will be able to contribute.”

The gofundme page for Vimal is HERE

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