74-year-old retiree who has lived in UK for nearly 50 years told he is not British

Stephen Nartey May 16, 2024
Nelson Shardey/Photo credit: BBC

Nelson Shardey, a retired 74-year-old Ghanaian man who has resided in the UK for nearly half a century, has been asked to wait for 10 years before the Home Office grants him permanent residency. The retiree, from Wallasey in Wirral, said for many years he has walked with the knowledge that he was British.

He however learned otherwise in 2019, despite meeting his tax obligations all his working life, and is now confronted with the tough task of looking for funds to remain in the country, including hefty NHS fees. The Home Office has refrained from commenting on the ongoing legal proceedings, according to BBC.

Shardey, a retired newsagent, arrived in the UK in 1977 to pursue accountancy studies on a student visa which permitted him to work. But, a coup in his native Ghana halted financial support from his family, leading him to take various jobs, including making Mother’s Pride bread, Kipling’s Cakes near Southampton, and Bendick’s Chocolate in Winchester.

In all of these struggles, his right to reside and work in the UK was never questioned. After marrying a British woman, Shardey relocated to Wallasey to establish his own newsagent business, Nelson’s News. Following the dissolution of that marriage, he married another British woman, with whom he had two sons named Jacob and Aaron.

“I tried my utmost to educate them the best way I could so that neither of them would depend on social or anything,” Shardey said.

He advised his sons to “learn hard, get a good job, and work for themselves”, and both furthered their studies at university and then careers as a research scientist and a public relations executive.

Shardey said since he came to the UK, he had never left the country, stating that he never felt the need to leave as he considered the UK as his home.

“Nobody questioned me. I bought all my things on credit, even the house.

“I got a mortgage. And nobody questioned me about anything,” he said.

Despite his contributions to society, including performing jury service and fighting a robber who assaulted a delivery man with a baseball bat, Shardey learned with shock in 2019 that he was not British when he applied for a passport to visit Ghana after his mother died.

The Home Office said that he lacked British citizenship and had no right to reside in the UK. Authorities advised Shardey to pursue the 10-year route to settlement, which entails approximately £7,000 ($8,000) in expenses and an additional £10,500 over the same period to access the NHS.

“I cannot afford to pay any part of the money they are asking,” said Shardey, who is recovering from prostate cancer. “Telling me to go through that route is a punishment, and it’s not fair in any way.”

“I don’t understand why this fuss at all, because I put my life, my whole self into this country.”

Due to an error in filling out the online form for extending his right to stay in the UK two years ago, Shardey restarted the 10-year process in 2023. Consequently, he will not be eligible for permanent residency until he reaches the age of 84.

“I just thought it was a joke. It’s just ridiculous,” said his son Jacob, who does research in cardiovascular physiology. “Why would he need to go and start this 10-year route when he’s been here since 1977?

“He’s been here longer than the people who are working in the Home Office on his case have been alive.”

Shardey is currently taking the Home Office to court, with the help of Nicola Burgess, a lawyer at Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: May 16, 2024


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