Our Impact This Month
“Street Teams were the only ones I genuinely engaged with”
I was abused as a child from the age of 9. I thought this was normal. I had no sense of right or wrong and I thought being passed round was just what happened. When I was 14 I started to hang around with a bad crowd. I was bored and looking for excitement and money but I now know I was searching for love and a sense of belonging. I was groomed by a group of men who used me as a drugs mule as well as sexually exploiting me, although I didn’t know this at the time. Addicted to cannabis and was passed around gangs, I was also self harming and in regular contact with the Police.
I thought this was normal, I thought this was how grown ups “partied”. My mum knew what was happening but I felt she turned a blind eye.
When I was 16 social services moved me approximately 150 miles away from my home to Walsall, this is when I was referred to Street Teams and other agencies, but Street Teams were the only people who I genuinely engaged with, I just told the others what I thought they wanted to hear.
When I arrived in Walsall I was only 16 and didn’t know anybody, I still had old gang members trying to find me and get me to go back but by now my Street Teams case worker had made me realise that I had been a victim of grooming and exploitation. This wasn’t my fault. My case worker is really kind and I can talk to her about anything, we have a great relationship. I love that she is not too “professional”.
I would say I have a growth mindset now. I want to help others in my situation; I am going to college to do health and social care and one day aspire to be a lawyer. I am now in a healthy relationship with my boyfriend, something I have never experienced before.
I strongly suspect that without Street Teams I would have a very different life, I would be at high risk of being exploited again as I didn’t understand the red flags to look out for. I may well have ended up with a criminal record as well as unplanned pregnancies.