‘Nightmare with no end’: Mum trapped in UK
"LIKE a nightmare with no end. I cried non-stop for three days."
These are the heartbreaking words of Gold Coast single mother Lynne Stewart who can't fly home to care for her 13-year-old autistic son because she's stuck in Scotland grieving for a mother she never had the chance to say goodbye to.
"The entire situation is made worse by not being entitled to any government support over here. I am now borrowing from friends to survive," she said.
"For the first time ever I'm unable to pay my mortgage. I live in constant fear of the cooling weather here and the increasing COVID cases.
"I've also missed a cardiac review for some heart issues that are being monitored and I have a tumour on my thyroid that is potentially cancerous and increasing in size.
"I am not OK. I am only just surviving because right now I have no other choice."
She's desperate for the federal and state governments to stop the blame game and work together to remove the cap on returning citizens so thousands of Australians stranded overseas can return home.
"We are begging to not be forgotten," said the Oxenford local.
"I never could have imagined anything would keep me separated from my children for this length of time.
"Keeping a mother from her child is the worst kind of cruel and naturally comes with its own feelings of guilt about somehow failing to provide as a parent for your child's most basic needs.
"He's not really coping.
"I have a friend looking after him at home which is an amazing help and the best place for Alex (Stuckings) to be with his things and pets around him.
"I'm already wondering if I will be home for Christmas and this just doesn't bare thinking about."
Ms Stewart flew to Scotland at the end of July after booking flights and organising an exemption to fly to be at her dying mother's side. But she died before she got there.
She didn't bring Alex with her because of the potential risk of COVID and was unaware that her return flight would be cancelled because of government regulations.
"It was heartbreaking to not get here on time, to say goodbye to my mum. But I continued with my travel plans in order to organise funeral plans and say my goodbyes. As executor I also had lots to attend to," she said.
Fast forward to August 16, her bag was packed, her COVID test negative and she was excited about flying home on August 19 to be united with her son. But the flight was cancelled.
"It took about 10 hours and 20 calls to the 24-hour emergency line of the Australian High Commission in London before I finally got a person on the line at 3am.
"I was told 'there is nothing we can do, we don't control the borders'."
Beside herself with grief and anxiety and desperate to be with her son, she booked four flights with four different airlines and paid upfront for three.
"On the 31st of August my booked but unpaid flight was cancelled alongside my second confirmed flight home."
Ms Stewart is now anxiously awaiting her next flight home on September 25, saying she's "remaining hopeful but knowing realistically that they are already cancelling January flights".
After that her next option is November 4.
"I don't know how I will take another disappointment given that most airlines are no longer taking new bookings as they simply can't afford to fly all that way with 30 passengers on board."
With several health issues under review at Gold Coast University Hospital, Ms Stewart said she was not equipped for winter in the United Kingdom having lived in Australia for 30 years.
"We need action we need caps lifted we need repatriation. We feel abandoned and forgotten," she said.
Originally published as 'Nightmare with no end': Coast mum trapped in UK