Child holding up a sign that says: In the beginning, it was difficult. But slowly things get better. You get used to people. And people get used to you too.

Josie's story

Josie is 15 years old and she had been living with a family in the UK for two years when the family she was staying with were reported to the police.

Josie grew up in Nigeria with her mother, father and five siblings. After her mother died, her father was approached by a man from another village who said he could help send Josie to the UK where she could get a good education and have a good life. Josie’s father agreed to this, wanting the best for Josie.

Trafficked and forced to work in the UK

Josie was taken by the man and flown to UK on false documents, accompanied by a woman who she did not know. On arrival in the UK, Josie was taken to live with the family, where she was expected to cook, clean and look after the children. Josie had a basic room with just a bed and a sink, and was given leftovers from the children’s plates to eat. Josie was never taken to the doctor or dentist when she had pains, and had to continue to work even when ill. The family treated her badly and she was rarely allowed out of the house.

Josie was found when a neighbour called the police. She had been concerned after seeing the girl in the garden hanging out washing, but had never seen her with the family or seen her leave the house. She also overheard the family shouting at Josie.

At first, Josie was so scared that she would not tell anyone what had happened, as she feared being returned to the family who would beat her, or to Nigeria where she feared her father would reject her for letting him down, or her traffickers would find her and harm her and her family.

In the beginning, it was difficult. But slowly things get better. You get used to people. People get used to you too.


Taking back control of her life

Josie was referred to the Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship (ICTG) service, who visited Josie the next day at her foster placement to help her understand what was happening and why.

Her Guardian met with Josie weekly to provide support around her wellbeing and the trauma she had experienced, as well as advocating for Josie in meetings to make sure her voice was heard when she was too afraid to speak in meetings herself.

Through the Guardian providing consistent visits and building a positive relationship with Josie, she felt safe to disclose what had happened to her, and is now working towards recovery, with support from her Guardian, social worker, and foster carer.

A girl looking distressed with her knees to her chest against a worn blue wall

Trafficked children

Barnardo’s is one of the few organisations in the UK to provide direct, specialist support to trafficked children, helping them cope with the experience and emotional trauma.

A girl in a red hoodie with a cropped afro looking straight forward

Amari's story

After experiencing exploitation Amari was referred to the Independent Child Trafficking Advocacy (ICTA) service. A Barnardo’s independent guardian supported her and worked with other professionals to develop her confidence, skills, and resilience. 

A quote card being held up by someone, which reads: "When I first came to placement, I felt lonely, I didn't know what the purpose of the placement was and I wanted to run away."

Linh's story

Linh was found in a nail bar by Police after a member of the public alerted them to children working on the premises, and was assisted by Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship to tell her story.