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People smuggling victim writes heart-warming thank you letter to Ashford foster carers and social workers

A young victim of people smuggling has written a heart-warming letter thanking his foster carer and social workers for saving his life.

Phong was rushed to an Ashford hospital in a life-threatening condition after he was found in a suitcase stowed in the back of a car in Dover last year.

He was just 16.

Phong has thanked his foster family, social workers and hospital staff for saving his life
Phong has thanked his foster family, social workers and hospital staff for saving his life

Thanks to the efforts of the William Harvey Hospital staff, the teenager soon recovered and was placed into foster care with Kent County Council.

The driver of the car, Andrei Iancu, was jailed for 18 months for smuggling.

Now Phong, who is originally from Vietnam, has written a letter thanking everyone who has helped him since he arrived in the UK:

"Dear England,

I’m writing a letter to tell you what a difference you have made to my life. You have saved my life. You have given me a family and a home.

When I came to the UK, when I woke up in the hospital I was very scared and panic. I don’t know where I am, what happen to me, I hurt all over my body and couldn’t eat. I could only use my neck and fingers just a little bit.

A young refugee has written a heart-warming thank you letter
A young refugee has written a heart-warming thank you letter

First thing I liked is the kind people in hospital. The nurses and doctors smiled at me and gave me biscuits, orange and water.

They looked after me very well. After 6 days stayed in the hospital Melissa the social worker came to see me and took me to a new home. I didn’t understand her until she showed me.

I had my own bedroom. It’s the first time I’ve had a bedroom. Now I have a mum, brother, sister, grandad, etc. At first I couldn’t speak English very well. We practiced every day. Then I was allowed to go to Kent Refugee Action Network to learn more English, that place I met Jo my new social worker.

After three months I stayed in UK I go to college to learn English and Maths.

I never thing I can pass exam but I have passed Entry 2 English and after 11 months stayed in UK. Thank you to everyone for helping me with English and myself. Now I believe in myself and I am positive instead of negative.

Thank you for finding me, making me better in hospital. Thank you for giving me a family, they love me and me too. Thank you for giving me an education. Thank you social services and government for your help and care. I never believed I would be loved. There is now a big rainbow in my life instead of darkness.

Phong was found in a suitcase in Dover
Phong was found in a suitcase in Dover

I am looking forward to doing entry 3 in college in September. I’m not sure I can pass but I will do my best. I hope I can make you proud.

My mum helped me with this letter. One more time thank you for changing my life."

Christine Burge is Phong’s foster carer.

She said: "Phong is an incredible young man who has grown so much since he arrived. He passed all of his exams, his confidence has grown and he has friends. He makes me very proud everyday.

The Ashford resident added: “He really is the most caring and determined boy I have ever met."

Kent County Council currently has a pool of more than 600 foster carers. But the council says they are in urgent need of more.

Foster carers can look after young people for shorter periods or have a more permanent responsibility.

To become a foster carer in Kent you must have a spare bedroom, be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain, and must be have enough time to look after a child.

To find out more click here or call 03000 420 002.

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