Sol’s Story: “I want to work to protect children from abuse”

Nineteen year-old Sol spent her younger years suffering abuse moving between foster homes and spent time on the streets when she should’ve been enjoying her childhood. After becoming a victim of sexual exploitation she describes how the YMCA saved her from sex work and how she is now working with them to help others at risk.

“I was living with several foster families for a couple of years. The first two families were quite good but the third one used to beat me so I went back to my mums. I don’t remember why I went there again, because I didn’t like it.”

To escape the abuse Sol fled home, and with nowhere to go she was sent to a hostel where she shared a room with 30 other girls. At the age of sixteen she thought things would improve when she went to live with her father, but under increasing pressure from him to earn money, and with no education or skills, she turned to the streets for a solution.

“My father humiliated me because I wasn’t earning any money. A friend of mine who was only 16 but worked on the street for many years introduced me to prostitution. She told me what to do and how to do it, so that’s how I started.”

When her father discovered that she was working on the streets he made her leave the home, and with few options left she turned to drink and drugs, and entered a deep depression.

It was then that she met her friend Paula, who introduced her to the YMCA, and it was here that Sol finally found the kind of support that she had been denied her by her parents and foster families, and started to turn her life around.

“They are always here; ready to talk to me, to go to my house to check that everything is fine if I miss one training day.”

A £20 donation could provide skills training to a young person, enabling them to gain employment or start their own business. Photo: Elena Marin-Yanez/YCI

A £20 donation could provide skills training to a young person, enabling them to gain employment or start their own business.

At the YMCA Sol received counselling and psychological support to help her deal with the trauma, along with skills training and help finding a job to equip her with the knowledge, skills and confidence to take control of her decisions.

Sol is no longer working on the streets and often accompanies Oscar, a YMCA peer educator, to reach other young people on the street and let them know how the YMCA could transform their lives. Sol plans to study Law so she can protect children from having to experience life on the streets and in the short term, she hopes to open a hairdressing business while she saves for University.

“I want to work to protect children from abuse. I love children and they should never be abused.”

Your gift can help young women like Sol escape sexual exploitation. Please help the YMCA be there for young people and say NO to exploitation.

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