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Sri Lankan family are finally British citizens

2013 Jul 16

When Nadesu Kuganesan uprooted his family to flee war-torn Sri Linka in December 2000 little did he know what lay ahead.

They landed in the UK with nothing and sought political asylum and in January 2001 ended up in Halifax.

The family slowly started to rebuild their lives with help from St Augustine’s Centre, Hanson Lane, which supports people of all nationalities.

But, in 2003 Mr Kuganesan was detained for several days due to a mix-up over his asylum application.

Again, with the help of the centre a new lawyer was found to sought out the wrangle.

And, finally, Calderdale’s latest citizenship ceremony welcomed Nadesu, 49, his wife, Selvarajany, 44, eldest daughter Sobiniya, 20, as British citizens. Two younger daughters aged 12 and 15 complete the family.

Sobiniya said the family fled Jaffna in the north of Sri Lanka which was heavily caught up in the country’s turmoil at that time.

“We wanted to get away from the war for a better life,” said Sobiniya, who is now studying accountancy at Nottingham University.

“We left our whole lives behind - relatives and everything. St Augustine’s Centre has been very supportive.”

The asylum settlement scheme supported the family and the centre helped with language, schooling and adjusting to the new culture.

Nadesu is now running his own painting and decorating business and is helped by Selvarajany and they are enjoying life in the Pellon Lane community where they live.

Kate Fawcett and Juliet Crampton, of St Augustine’s Centre, joined the trio at the citizenship ceremony at Spring Hall.

“It has taken 13-and-a-half years to get to this stage but it has all been worthwhile now,” said Kate.

Juliet said the family’s journey from beginning to end had been shared with people at the centre. “We have cried and laughed with them,” she said.

Robert Nimmo, 32, was also proud to become a British citizen.

The restaurant manager arrived from South Africa nine years ago and is now settled in Shelf and is engaged with a five-year-old daughter.

“I wanted a different life and to explore the world. England is pretty central and a good platform,” he said.

West Yorkshire Deputy Lieutenant Kate Moreton-Deakin said it was humbling to attend citizenship ceremonies.

“It is a privilege to be attend such a really special day,” she said.

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