Forde-Catwell Family

 “This government has left my children fatherless – my MP’s secretary said, “no they haven't, you have, why would you even come here?” I have every right to be here. I’m British, I’ve been with my husband for 20 years and we have 4 kids.”

“…but worst of all, it's killing my husband. Although I'm exhausted, at least I have the kids. He doesn't and I don't know how he's coping.”

Debbie Forde-Catwell, British, and Robin Catwell who is Barbadian, have been together for 20 years and have 4 children. Almost a year ago they decided to move to the UK for the children’s education. They have been separated since October 2012.

Debbie’s father is Barbadian and served for 23 years in British army. Over the past 20 years, Debbie and her children have mainly lived in Barbados but have spent periods of time living in the UK and they decided, as a family, to move back there for good for the sake of their children in 2011. They didn’t realise that they would have such problems getting a visa as Robin makes a good living from his business in Barbados and they wouldn’t need any support from the state. But Debbie, being a full time mother to her 4 children, has no way of meeting the income requirements for her husband to get a visa.

"I met him in a bar when I was 25. He had such a lovely soul and a heart of gold. It makes me upset to tell you how wonderful he is - he's the most genuine, lovely person. He's loved by everybody. He's a wonderful father. When we met, I had a young daughter from a previous relationship and he looked after her as if she was his own. She died at the age of 6 of cancer and he supported me throughout."

"We want our children to be educated in the UK. If we had known we would be separated for so long, we might not have made this decision. But our eldest is in sixth form now so there is no turning back."

"Initially, we didn't apply for a spousal visa. He came and went as a visitor as he owns his business in Barbados and his brother is his partner. We thought we didn't need a spousal visa. Then, when he came over in October 2012, he was questioned about his regular visits to the UK and was told that he needed a spousal visa. He was given 1 week to stay in the country and was told to go back and sort out his application. We begged but he wasn't allowed to stay for Christmas. They confiscated his passport and one week later, escorted him to check in, through the departure lounge, and to the plane, even though he had no criminal record and never overstayed. So he left and we applied for the visa in December 2012. On January 30 2013, he was told it was refused based on the income threshold. We have since appealed that decision and spent 200 hours compiling a document that had to be sent to Jamaica for processing. We were told it would take 19 weeks to make decision so we should have had a decision on July 26 – but no news yet."

"My eldest son doesn't talk much and he has been acting up in school. My daughter’s results are worsening. I spoke to the teachers of my youngest son and he curled up in the foetal position and started sobbing. We used to skype every day but we don’t now as it’s too upsetting. Robin calls me every day, 3 times a day but my 2 younger children won’t speak with him because they’re upset and angry. I get on with it because I have to. The kids all have sporting activity, football, rugby and athletics in the evenings and I want to be there at all of them but I’m run ragged. I so need a break but I can't when I have 4 kids. But worst of all, it's killing my husband. Although I'm exhausted, at least I have the kids. He doesn't and I don't know how he's coping."