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Fundraising for Franklin: Old William Ellis pupils are raising cash to help man left out of pocket by immigration nightmare

PUBLISHED: 09:25 06 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:07 07 December 2018

Franklin Azolukwam was

Franklin Azolukwam was "three days from deportation" despite having lived in London since he was a toddler. Picture: Franklin Azolukwam

Archant

A group of former William Ellis schoolmates have banded together to raise £5,000 for an old classmate’s rent after the Home Office wrongly stopped him working.

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Franklin Azolukwam worked two jobs, one at Transport for London and another at Greggs, before he was stopped from working by the Home Office. Eventually, the government admitted it had made a mistake and stopped enforcement action.

But as he had been banned from working, Franklin, who now has a new job at a bank, was unable to pay his rent – and the arrears have mounted up.

He has even been served with an eviction notice.

Brought up in Highgate after moving to this country from Nigeria as a toddler, Franklin, 36, attended William Ellis School in the 1990s, and friends he made there have stepped in to raise the money he needs to pay off his landlord.

A crowdfunder was set up by some of Franklin’s contemporaries from his days at the school – including Josh Feldberg, Nic Wigmore and Calum Campbell – and it has now raised £3,500 towards the £5,000 Franklin needs.

Franklin, 36, who now lives in Tottenham, told the Ham&High: “It has been a very, very turbulent year. I was three days from being deported, there was a plane ticket with my name on it.

“I have to thank all of these people – it’s incredible. It’s crazy. Some of the people donating are people I was in classes with long ago!”

Nick Wigmore said they had set up the crowdfunding page to see if they could make a difference. “He’s had such a horrendous year.

“But the response has been amazing. I know he really appreciates how people have his back.”

Sam White, headteacher at William Ellis School, told us he was hugely proud of the school’s alumni.

He said: “Whilst what has happened to Franklin is extremely distressing, it is absolutely heart-warming to learn that the bonds of friendship and camaraderie have stood the test of time and have led to constructive action.”

The Home Office reiterated its apology to Franklin. A spokesperson said: “Mr Azolukwam is no longer subject to any enforcement action. He has indefinite leave to remain in the UK. We regret he was issued with a bail notice on September 22 in error and we apologise for any emotional stress.”

Franklin has pledged to donate any money raised over the target to the Windrush Justice Fund and the mental health charity The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

When compensation comes through, the fundraised cash will be split between those causes, too.

To donate to the crowdfunder and help Franklin pay his rent before he gets compensation, see: gofundme.com/help-franklin-to-not-be-evicted

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