Our team took a call regarding Hendrick, a 16 year old from London who had been missing for over a month. He had been discovered over 300 miles away in a drug den during a police raid. The local authority placed him in temporary accommodation and contacted his Mum to make arrangements for him to be collected.
However, on meeting his Mum, Hendrick said he could not return to London and went missing again.
On the day we took the call about Hendrick, he had turned up at a police station scared and desperate. It was clear to our team that Hendrick was probably in debt to a county line drug gang. This potentially put him in danger of violence and exploitation. Unless debts are paid, young people are often forced to work for free and subjected to extreme violence. Two of our experienced caseworkers she went on the six-hour trip to meet Hendrick.
Upon arrival, Hendrick was initially highly resistant to all offers of help. However, our caseworkers persisted, staying up with him for 24 hours and gently encouraging him the disclose the full extent of what he was involved in, the levels of debt he had and who he was at risk from. The information he gave fully explained why he was so scared of returning to his old area in London.
Hendrick was being helped by people who knew what he was experiencing having been involved in similar situations themselves. In a calm, non-judgemental way, they helped Hendrick realise that he did have a life beyond county lines and it was possible to safely leave the desperate situation he was experiencing.
Eventually, Hendrick agreed to return to London with our caseworkers to a foster placement colleagues back at the London office had helped arrange for him. From here, we are continuing to support Hendrick to help him get his life back, receive support for the trauma he has experienced, build his confidence and access opportunities around training and legitimate employment.