TLG helps thousands of children every year. But 20 years ago, there was just one boy that kicked it all off. Lewis, now in his thirties, has no doubt that TLG transformed his life for good.
“My childhood wasn’t nice. I grew up in a house with a violent man. My dad believed that children should be seen and not heard, so if we did anything wrong he’d punish us with a belt. On birthdays or at Christmas, if there were a little bit of paper left on the floor he’d beat us. One time, he was working away in London. We packed our bags and did a runner in the middle of the night.
At the time I just thought it was normal. They say you get the t-shirt but I got the scars. I didn’t know how to talk about it. I bottled it up and pushed it below the surface. All I’d ever known was violence so that’s how I dealt with the anger I had inside me.
I hated being at school. I felt trapped and like no-one understood what I’d been through. So I worked out how to play the system. I’d try and get kicked out of school by half past nine. If that meant throwing a punch at someone I’d do it because I didn’t want to be there.
Instead of school, I went to the local cricket ground and learned how to be a groundsman. That’s all I wanted to do. I’m no good sat at a desk. I just like working outdoors where I’ve got my own space.
I started going to TLG, which was just a few streets away from where I grew up. It was like nowhere else. It was safe and taught me that life could be different – that I could change. I’d always thought that all Christians were old with walking sticks and zimmer frames but these were Christians in their twenties, not that much older than us.
That’s where I met Tim Morfin. Without him, I’d probably be dead or in prison because everyone wrote me off – except for Tim. I never thought I'd make 16, 18 or 21, never mind my thirties.
Recently, all the stuff from my childhood that I’d buried came back to bite me. I started having flashbacks and I didn’t know how to process it. It was making me ill. But because of TLG, I've still got support even now. Tim & Rae have been my rock. We’ve sat together and talked through everything. I’d never cried in front of anyone in my life but with them the tears were running down my face and it felt like such a relief. They say you can’t choose your family, but I did. That’s what Tim & Rae mean to me.
Life is better now. I’ve got a full-time job as a gardener and I still look after two cricket grounds at the weekend. I talk to God all the time too and he’s shown me a different way of dealing with things. Looking back, I know that he’s always been guiding and protecting me.
If sharing my story helps one person then it’s worth it. I feel as though 25 years on, kids are still being let down. It’s so easy to kick someone out but how about trying to find out what the issues are? There are so many kids struggling but they need someone to listen to them. If it weren’t for the likes of TLG doing this, who would?”