YMCA St Paul’s Group works with many young people across its areas, and we often talk about the success of the projects, but it’s also important to tell the stories of young people in crisis and how we support them. YMCA Britwell in Slough is a house where 10 Looked After Children stay, aged between 16 and 17. It’s semi-independent provision, where each young person has a support. Here is a success story of one young lady who was referred there by social services.
Sophie (not her real name) came to the UK from China after having been trafficked into the country. She spoke very little English and required an interpreter by the time she was placed at YMCA Britwell in Slough. In China, Sophie’s mother had sent her to live with a friend – the “friend” then sold Sophie to traffickers at the age of 12 and she was made to work in a brothel. Sophie was locked indoors and was not allowed to leave the house. She was smuggled out of China in a container by traffickers and believes she was drugged for most parts of the journey to the UK. She was picked up in an immigration raid at a nail bar, and social services placed her with the YMCA. She was just 16.
Upon placement at YMCA Britwell, Sophie was supported to access therapeutic care for post-traumatic stress related conditions which were endured during her horrific ordeal. Following her improved wellbeing, she registered with a college where she enrolled for ESOL English and Maths. Sophie successfully completed her Level 1 courses and is now studying Maths Level 3 and ESOL Level 2. Reports received through our liaison work with her college confirms that her attendance is excellent and she has never been late.
Keeping young people in crisis safe
Sophie remains a vulnerable young lady who did not appear to be aware of any risks such as walking through the park late at night on her own. She has now been given appropriate guidance on how to safeguard herself and has started doing martial arts (Judo) where she has achieved red belt.
Last summer, Sophie attended a residential trip to Derbyshire for five days, where she was able to interact more with other young people in care. She reported back that they went swimming, canoeing and climbing amongst other activities.
She has also been to London for an outing with National Citizen Services; to Westminster on a boat trip up the Thames, then on to the Tower of London and other sights. She also celebrated Chinese New Year in London with her friends and really enjoyed herself with others from her community. Sophie says she would like to do voluntary work in future when time permits so as to help others in her position. She is happy living at YMCA Britwell and feels very supported.