A couple of years ago I become aware of a young man called Peter who was using The Wellspring everyday and was rough sleeping in one of the caves in Stockport. I got to know this young man by chatting to him by using Google translate as his English was not good. He told me he had travelled to Stockport from Estonia but had met some “Bad People”………
Caves in Stockport.
I had a meeting with a Manchester Evening News journalist who was doing some research on Universal Credit and asked me if anyone was sleeping rough at the moment. “Well there is this Estonian chap” The journalist was intrigued and had a short meeting with Peter who offered to show the journalist the caves. I tagged along and explained that Peter could not be housed or claim any benefits as he was Estonian and Estonia is not in the European Economic Area.
I must say I was a little surprised by the front page of The Manchester Evening News the next day……..
I was then contacted by The Daily Mail and few other media outlets including BBC TV News who wanted to run a piece about this. We filmed the next day and Peter was on the news that evening.
This news then more or less went global, the story was in the New York Times and the Melbourne Post! and also on the TV in Estonia.
The next day I received a phone call I will never forget. “Hi, I am calling from Estonia, that boy in the photo and on TV, he is my son. He’s been missing from home for 3 months.
Peters mum paid for a hotel for him and flew over to meet her son and take him home.
After Peter had gone home we found out that Peter had been tricked to come to the UK and had been trafficked. Peter had answered an advert in an Estonian Newspaper promising work and accommodation in the UK. He had suffered much abuse and had not had his medication that he needed. He was held hostage near London, managed to escape and ended up in Leeds (Where the Leeds Police arrested him for vagrancy and confiscated his ID) He then walked from Leeds and ended up in a cave in Stockport.
If it was not for The Wellspring and 2 exceptionally kind and caring Social Work Students that we had at The Wellspring at that time then I can say with some confidence that Peter would have died on the streets of the UK.
Peter is now safe and well and has returned to education in Estonia.