Sometimes it’s lonely being a teenager. For many of us, that stage of life just came with its own difficulties: We felt self-conscious, misunderstood, and overwhelmed by too many transitions going on at once. On top of that, the young people reached by Love146 have been through the isolating experience of trafficking and its aftermath. For those we support in the U.K., there’s yet another layer of unbelonging: They’ve all been transported here across international borders. So once the dust settles, they find they are alone, far from home, in a strange country. Learning how to understand or speak English is hard. Learning how to understand or speak about their story is even harder.
The young people we support here come from three different continents, and each one grew up with different pressures and risk factors that made them vulnerable to trafficking. Many of them, in fact, were thrown into systems of exploitation and abuse in the process of trying to get away from very dangerous situations. They need help applying for political asylum; for these young people, home is too dangerous a place to return to.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t still have strong ties to the place where they grew up. “They miss their mum, they miss their dad, they miss their brothers and sisters, their language, their culture, their food. They miss everything,” says Lynne Chitty, the director of Survivor Support in the U.K.
WE CAN’T GIVE THEM THEIR HOME BACK. BUT WE CAN TAKE STEPS TO HELP THEM FEEL LESS ALONE.
At Love146, we know home is a big deal. And since our U.K. Survivor Support doesn’t currently offer residential services, we find other ways to make home happen.
Right now, five young people receiving support from Lynne and her team actually come from the same country. Love146 provides a safe place where they can meet up once a month to hang out, play board games, and cook the dishes they remember from back home. For a few hours, they get to eat the food they grew up with and make jokes in their own language. And nobody has to explain to the others why that matters so much.