A Liverpool hairstylist needs to raise £3,500 to help bring her children home from South Africa and her employer – local salon Voodou – is giving over an entire day’s takings to help. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool hair salon founder Rob Webb will donate a day’s takings to help one of his stylists who is desperate to bring her children back from South Africa.
Rene Feeley has worked at Voodou in Liverpool city centre for the past eight months. She and her husband, Adam, came over to the UK from South Africa to live. Her dad is originally from Liverpool and her mum from Manchester but they have lived in South Africa for 54 years.
They are currently looking after Rene’s three children in Johannesburg but want to come back to the UK for their retirement. The plan was for the whole family to settle back in Merseyside but the immigration process has hit a major snag.
Rene has three children – Tyron, 19, Chad, 12, and Dani, who is eight. The visas for Tyron and Dani have gone through without any problem but a technical hitch with Chad’s visa means the family has to reapply. This will need to be done via an immigration agent at a cost of £3,500.
“We started the immigration process for the children in November and the whole process was slowed down by the war in Ukraine,” Rene told LBN. “The process for Tyron and Dani has gone through smoothly but there is a complication with Chad’s visa.
“Adam and I went down to the immigration centre in Liverpool but they would not let us in the door. We could only communicate by letter. We sent them letters from my employer and from my doctor who told them of the impact not seeing my children was having on my mental health.
“When we were told that Chad’s visa had been refused it was a shock to say the least. It sent me into a downward spiral. The UK immigration website is really complicated and I do wish now we had done things differently.
“We have had amazing support from Rob and also from our local MP (Bill Esterson, Labour MP for Sefton Central) but I haven’t seen my children since July last year and it is absolutely killing me.
“I Facetime them up to four times a day – I just want to stay involved in their lives as much as I can. My parents are aged 75 and 80 and, of course, they cannot move back here until the situation with the children is sorted out. It is like the lives of the whole family have been put on hold.”
Voodou operates two Liverpool salons – Bold Street in the city centre and West Derby Road. Rob founded the business in Anfield in 1976. On Monday, June 27, he will be holding a fundraising day at the salon in Bold Street.
He said: “All takings will be given to Rene and her husband to help fund the cost of a new family visa application. All our stylists will be working voluntarily doing £25 blow dries and selling raffle tickets for £1 per strip to win a colour makeover worth more than £150. Our clients are eager to help and have already started buying tickets.
“Rene is a lovely, hard-working person. She and her husband have come to Liverpool and they want to give their kids a better life. They are a pair of diamonds.
“They have just moved into a lovely home that will accommodate them and the kids but this mix-up has thrown the whole plan up in the air. We want to do as much as we can to help get this family back together.”