About The Sophie Hayes Foundation
An overview of Sophie & the Foundation
The Sophie Hayes Foundation was set up and inspired by Sophie in January 2012. Since Sophie's return to the UK she has been relentless in her work in order to make a difference and change perceptions, Human Trafficking is one of the world's fastest growing crimes, Sophie brings to life that this could happen to anyone, Sophie could be your sister, your daughter, your friend.... Sophie could be just like you....
"Just a few years ago everything changed. I was trafficked. I was fooled. I was deceived by a man who said that he loved me. The tragedy is that I believed him. Now I know that love is not shown by forcing me to work on the streets, beating me up, force feeding me and turning me into someone with no mind of my own. For people like him my life meant nothing, I was a product and a vehicle to make money but I am a survivor.
Since my ordeal I have been determined to turn the experience into a positive one, everyone deserves freedom and their basic human rights, and although he stole my freedom, I am determined to do everything in my power to make a difference and share a story of Hope to others.
Sophie Hayes - Founder
'Trafficked' Sophie's personal story of being trafficked from theUK.
It was early April, and a normal day in the STOP THE TRAFFIK office. I remember I was sitting next to my colleague and engrossed in some task or other when the phone rang, another distraction! I picked it up and started to talk to the woman on the other end of the phone. She said her name was Sophie, and she said she had been trafficked. She said that she'd like help and would like to help us. Neither of us knew what this meant, but in hindsight it was about connecting, being understood, being part of something that worked to prevent the trafficking of people.
I got off the phone and just looked at my colleague with wide eyes and explained the phone call. It is so rare for someone to identify themselves as having been trafficked, and to be so open and articulate in sharing the horrors of what happened to them. I couldn't of known then that the woman on the end of the phone would take me with her on an incredible journey of rebuilding her life, her hopes and dreams for the future, finding her own justice through sharing her story so that awareness is raised about trafficking - a journey which is still continuing after 6 years of friendship. I had no idea when I answered that phone and heard her story for the first time, that I would be proud to witness her telling it today.
Sophie and I built a relationship over the phone over the next few months, and eventually had our first meeting at a café in a train station perhaps 6 months after we first spoke, by which time I knew Sophie's story …
She was living in a city in the North of England, and was 18 years old and had no idea about human trafficking. One night she was out with friends, Kas started talking to her, he worked at a bar she went to all the time. He was very flattering and fun but she said no, she wasn't interested in anyone at that time. However, over the years they developed a friendship, he accepted she wasn't interested and what came out of it was an amazing friendship, after a couple of years they chatted regularly on the phone. After about a year she broke up with my boyfriend at the time and Kas had been there for her, understanding what she was going through and really listening.
They had known each other for six years now and she trusted him as a best friend. He told her he was off to Spain for a holiday, and she should come along for a weekend to cheer herself up. Tempted by some light relief, some pizza and a chance to get away for a few days, Sophie said yes.
About six weeks later he invited her to see him again in Italy, It was when she got to Italy that everything changed. Kas changed. He announced on her third night that he was in debt and Sophie must help by working on the streets to earn the money he needed to pay back. It was the start of a previously unimaginable horrific experience.
Sophie had been trafficked but it wasn't till she was back in the UK and a few months later an internet search threw up STOP THE TRAFFIK that she realised she wasn't the only person that this had happened too. Sophie's story is a stark reminder that trafficking is not something that happens far away to someone else. It happens everywhere. Sophie could have been my sister, one of the girls from school, or someone from my work.
Sophie found STOP THE TRAFFIK and has been involved ever since. She accompanied STOP THE TRAFFIK to the United Nations to present our declaration in 2009 and she has been part of raising awareness with vulnerable young people. She has changed our story and hopefully we have also changed hers.
Bex Keer - STOP THE TRAFFIK