1996 – 1997
Forest Gate School, Newham, London
Year 7 students at Forest Gate School saw their friend Natasha Matambile crying. When they asked what the matter was, she told them she was being forced to leave the UK.
Natasha came from Angola which, at the time, was in the grip of a violent civil war. Natasha and her family had been forced to flee in 1991 after her father had been badly beaten and her four-year-old brother killed. They found safety in Newham.
However, without warning, the British government wanted to send the family back to Angola. Hurriedly, students started a campaign to keep Natasha in Newham – they had only two days.
Two hundred students marched in the local park and managed to get 800 signatures on a petition. They contacted their MP and the Home Office. Their speedy efforts delayed the deportation by a few weeks. Eventually, after students put pressure on Newham Council and the government, Natasha and her family were granted the right to stay permanently on 1 May 1997.