Tom’s Story

The Purple Teardrop Campaign is currently supporting Bournemouth Churches Housing Association’s Liberty Project. Here is the story of  ‘Tom’ and the support he is receiving to help re-build his life:

Tom came to the Liberty Project in August of last year.  We don’t know Tom’s real age, or his real name or what country he comes from. Tom doesn’t know either. All Tom can remember is coming to the UK on a plane when he was a child.  His last memories of home are being with his mother and being made to massage men. 

He was kept in the attic of a house for many years and sexually exploited throughout his time there. He doesn’t know how long he was there; he kept a log on the wall, but after a few years, gave up. 

Like many victims of human trafficking, he finally found an opportunity to escape through an unlocked door and ran. He was referred to us after being picked up wandering the streets in distress and was taken to a local police station. 

When Tom arrived at the BCHA Liberty Project, he showed symptoms of severe post-traumatic stress due to the terrible abuse he had suffered. He had great difficulty in sleeping as he was suffering from horrific nightmares.  

Although he was accommodated in a flat with a bedroom, kitchen and lounge, for the first few months, Tom lived, slept and ate in the lounge. All Tom wanted to do was go home to his mother, but of course no one knew where he was from and in addition, it would be potentially very unsafe as there was a real risk of him being re trafficked. 

BCHA have worked extremely closely with the police, immigration, and health and tracing services. We still do not know where Tom is from. We believe from health services advice, he is probably 18-20 years old and most likely originates from Asia. 

Tom is receiving specialist sexual abuse counselling and has now decided that he wants to remain in the UK. Since being in the Liberty Project, Tom has slowly begun to gain confidence and learn to live as a young man who has access to friends and all the normal things that he has been denied for so long. 

We were able to provide him with a radio, tv and mobile phone, all which helped him so much as he found being alone very frightening.  His favourite programme is East Enders! He has been able to go on day trips with other residents, including Bournemouth Air Show and a visit to McDonalds (which he says was one of the best experiences he has had so far!). 

Although victims of trafficking do receive a weekly allowance, Tom had no experience of budgeting and in the first few months, would spend his money on expensive items that were not essential. We were able to provide clothing suitable for a young person and help in providing books and magazines that would help with his English skills. Tom doesn’t know his birth date, but we had a birthday party for him where we were able to give him his first present and a cake. 

Although Tom still has a long way to go in his recovery, he has come such a long way and will hopefully be starting college soon. We are currently looking for him to move to his own accommodation and hope to be able to help him with a starter pack.  All the little extras we are able to provide are through the very kind donations such as those from the Purple Teardrop Campaign.  Although these can’t erase what has happened to victims of human trafficking, we do believe that it makes life a little easier for them and help in the belief they do have some true value in life.

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