A young chef who is a product of South Bristol Skills Academy and is currently working as an apprentice at the Michelin-starred Elephant restaurant in Torquay under Simon Hulstone is facing the prospect of deportation.
The 18-year-old, named only as Ali, fled his native Albania at the age of 16 after what has been described as a “traumatic and distressing” childhood.
Having stowed away on a lorry that he boarded just outside Calais in France, Ali arrived in Bristol for the first time on 1 September 2015, having spent three weeks in the Calais jungle.
After finding his way to a local social services office, he was placed with foster carer John Stokes and by the end of September was enrolled on a catering course at South Bristol Skills Academy.
In his first year, he became a college ambassador and was the outstanding student on his course. Taking the opportunity to volunteer at events, he met Hulstone and was invited first for a week’s work experience and then invited back to spend much of his summer holiday working at the restaurant.
Now an apprentice at the restaurant, Ali recently made the national finals in the Young Peruvian Chef of the Year competition, and was awarded third place.
He has also managed to maintain a part-time job at the Italian Kitchen in Hanham.
However, Ali has had his request to continue and develop his life in England denied by the Home Office and he must now go to court to make his case in a final attempt to gain sanctuary in the UK so as to continue his career.
He has also been told that he will not qualify for legal aid so he can only appeal his case if he can raise £5,000 to do so. The young chef is looking to use the money he has saved while working toward his legal expenses and intends to raise the rest through his own efforts.
A JustGiving crowdfunding page has also been set up to assist Ali in his fight to stay in the countery: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/john-stokes?utm_id=2&utm_term=JrJ7zmXkw
Commenting on Ali and his work ethic, Hulstone said: “Ali impressed me from the first time I met him and he’s a major asset to the team. He’s extremely talented with a great drive and passion for developing his considerable culinary skills. He’s a lovely young man and I really hope that he can have the future he deserves in this country. I feel it would be wrong to deny his ambitions after all he’s gone through and when we are facing such a serious skills crisis, the industry can’t afford to lose such a promising talent.”
His carer John Stokes added: “For me personally Ali is now part of my family and will always remain so whatever the courts decide.
“Like any young person Ali deserves the right to have a future with a loving and supportive family around him, something he will never have in his own country.”
Efforts to raise support for Ali are being communicated through the Twitter hashtag #Future4Ali.
Pictured: Chef Ali competes in the Young Peruvian Chef of the Year competition, as judge Martin Morales looks on.
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