A charity supporting survivors of trafficking and modern slavery has seen calls to its helpline rise by 20% since Sir Mo Farah revealed he was brought to the UK illegally as a child.
The four-time Olympic champion, 39, revealed in the BBC documentary The Real Mo Farah how he was trafficked to Britain from Somaliland under the name of another child, after his father was killed in the civil war.
Unseen UK previously thanked the Olympic champion for "having the courage to share your story", while immigration experts and lawyers also said his revelations will help create a safe space for other trafficking survivors to seek support.
Justine Carter, charity director of Unseen UK, told the BBC some callers had explicitly mentioned Sir Mo as a prompt for reaching out for support.
“It shows us that these types of high-profile stories really do have an impact with the public, and it’s resonating with those who might have spotted something concerning or might have been in a situation that’s similar to Sir Mo’s and the story that he told to the BBC,” she said.
“People feel very alone and isolated when they’re in that situation themselves, so knowing that somebody else has been a victim of this type of crime – and is still suffering from all of the experiences that they’ve had as a child – I think is really crucial.”
Last year in the UK alone, 5,468 children were identified as victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, according to the charity. The father-of-four revealed that his real name is Hussein Abdi Kahin and he was born in Somaliland. He was trafficked illegally under the name of another child when he was nine years old.
Until the documentary aired, Sir Mo had maintained he came to Britain as a refugee with his family. That is the story he told UK immigration officials when he became a UK citizen in 2000 at the age of 17.
Sir Mo said he had always feared he would be deported if he ever told the truth about how he came to Britain.
He confided in his school PE teacher Alan Watkinson, who later helped him to obtain citizenship.
The teacher told ITV's Good Morning Britain he believed his former pupil kept his traumatic childhood "locked away" in order to progress in sport which was "the one enjoyment that he had".
Ultimately, Sir Mo decided to speak out about his experience after decades of silence in the hopes of challenging public perceptions of trafficking and modern slavery.
The Metropolitan Police has launched an investigation into the trafficking claims, while the Home Office confirmed they would take no action against him.
Ahead of the broadcast, Sir Mo said he created the documentary for his family.
He wrote on Instagram: “I’m so proud have represented Great Britain and to achieved what I have as a GB athlete.
“But, my proudest achievement will always be being a husband and father to my amazing family.
“I did this documentary for them, so they could understand more about the experiences that led us to becoming the family we are today.
“Not every child will have the easiest start in life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go on to achieve their dreams.
“I hope you’ll all watch later and I can’t wait to hear what you think.”
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