Red Cross warns of 'worrying precedent' for charities after volunteer refused UK citizenship

Olivier Mondeke Monongo was reportedly turned down by the Home Office because he had failed to disclose voluntary work

Home Office
Home Office

The British Red Cross has warned of a "worrying precedent" being set for charities after claims that an asylum seeker was refused citizenship in the UK because of his volunteering work.

The charity was reacting to claims in the Scottish newspaper The National over the weekend that Olivier Mondeke Monongo, a former refugee from the Republic of Congo, had his citizenship application turned down by the Home Office because he had not disclosed his volunteering work with British Red Cross and Bridgeton Citizens Advice Bureau in Glasgow.

The story claims that Mondeke Monongo, whose LinkedIn page says he is an auxiliary nurse based in Glasgow, breached an immigration condition to seek official permission to undertake unpaid work, and he was refused citizenship on the grounds of "bad character".

The British Red Cross said it understood that volunteering was "entirely legal" for asylum applicants and that it was urgently looking into the claims about Monongo’s case.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "The British Red Cross adheres to the Home Office’s rules in relation to how we engage with volunteers who are going through the asylum process. The Home Office makes a clear distinction between volunteering and voluntary work. During the asylum process, which can take years, volunteering is entirely legal.

"Volunteering provides people who are awaiting a decision on their asylum application the opportunity to use their skills to benefit the wider community. On a daily basis, we see the vital contribution these people make to our services.

"We are extremely concerned to hear about Mr Monongo’s case and the potentially worrying precedent this could set for the voluntary sector. We are looking into the circumstances surrounding the case as a matter of urgency."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said the department did not routinely comment on individual cases.

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