AN NHS Psychologist finally crossed the finish line after spending three months running to raise funds to help end modern slavery.

Dr Tom Crossland from South Oxfordshire took on the enormous challenge of running 1,900 miles around the coast of England and Wales. He set off from Kidmore End Cricket Club near Sonning Common with the goal of raising £20,000 for TRIBE Freedom Foundation, a charity that aims to end modern slavery.

Dr Crossland said he was determined to help the cause after he learnt a shocking statistic. He said: "A few years ago, I learnt that there are more modern slaves estimated to be in the world now than in any other point in history, which to me is just mind blowing. We think slavery is a thing of the past, yet it is happening in towns, villages and cities around the country in the UK. It could be happening to our neighbours or down our street. I do not think it gets enough attention, so I was keen to raise awareness."

According to TRIBE Freedom Foundation modern slavery in the UK can take many forms, including forced sexual exploitation, domestic slavery or forced labour on farms, in construction, shops, bars, nail bars, car washes or manufacturing.

During the single week of 28 June 2021 Thames Valley Police identified 20 potential victims of modern slavery needing safeguarding in the Thames Valley. Thames Valley police also identified a number of offences involving drug supply, immigration and trafficking offences in the Thames Valley.

Originally he had planned to run from Athens in Greece to London to highlight the struggle refugees face as they are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking.

However, Covid meant the plans had to be changed. Still keen to do the run, Dr Crossland explored different routes in the UK and decided to run 1,900 miles around the cost of England and Wales.

Herald Series: Tom Crossland runs 2,000 miles to end modern slavery

Born with Cerebral Palsy, running does not come naturally to Dr Crossland. He said: "I did not start walking until I was about three or four and so I have always been active but running didn't come easily to me. My dad was a very keen runner and after university I picked up ultra running which is running anything longer than a marathon and it has just continued from there. I have found from running that I can focus on what I can do rather than what I am unable to do."

After three months of running Dr Crossland managed to raise about £22,000.

On Saturday for the last 300 metre stretch, local primary school children wearing the school PE kit and Kidmore End Junior cricketers cheered him on across the finish line.

He said: "I felt a massive sense of relief to get home, I was excited to see my family and friends especially my wife."

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