An anti-child trafficking project in Manchester is among 40 good causes to benefit from the latest round of funding from the National Lottery.
As part of the BIG Reaching Communities programme, children’s charity Barnardo's has received £297,098 to help fund a pilot scheme to protect young people who are either at risk of child trafficking or who have experienced it first-hand.
Through Gregory’s Place, a facility just outside Manchester city centre, affected children will be able to communicate and socialise with other children from a background of similar experiences.
Emma Hawley, Children’s Services Manager at Gregory’s Place, was delighted with the news. She said: “The money will help to build on our existing work with some of the most vulnerable and hidden young people as well as helping us to increase the awareness of professionals in how to identify and support young people who have been trafficked into the UK.”
Due to good transport links, infrastructure and close proximity to other major cities, Greater Manchester is a popular destination for international traffickers seeking to exploit some of the most vulnerable children., many of whom from areas such as Eastern Europe and Western Africa.
Steve Chalke MBE, founder of the STOP THE TRAFFIK campaign and United Nations Special Advisor on Community Action against Human Trafficking, said: “Human trafficking starts in communities and can be stopped by communities. Local residents need to know what human trafficking is, how it affects them, and what they can do about it.”
Child trafficking is an issue that is receiving more exposure in recent times and will soon be presented in the form of an opera, ‘Anya17’, coming to the Royal Northern College of Music.
The problem hit the small screen recently in a feature-length BBC1 film, ‘Stolen’, featuring ‘Band of Brothers’ star Damian Lewis. The programme was filmed in Manchester and Salford, where its director Justin Chadwick was raised.
A report from children’s charity ‘Save the Children’, entitled ‘Child Trafficking in Manchester’ outlined the duties carried out by many of the children affected. The report states that “Children are trafficked for a number of purposes, including sexual exploitation through prostitution, illegal adoption, under-age forced marriage, benefit fraud and child labour” and explained that child trafficking works through “personal and family networks, as well as through highly organised international crime networks”.
The work carried out at Gregory’s Place is one such example of taking a pro-active approach to dealing with the problem. Barnado's is increasing awareness of the issue among the general public and offering support to those affected, and the Lottery funding goes towards this.
The children who will benefit from the work at Gregory’s Place will have been referred by Children’s Services, Youth Offending Services, Primary Care Trust, Education Services or the Greater Manchester Police. It is hoped that providing the victims of child trafficking with the support available to them will help those affected to deal with the effects it can cause, including isolation, trust issues and a range of other physical and psychological issues.
The BIG Reaching Communities fund will distribute more than £10.7 million to worthy causes throughout the country, including significant donations to causes in North Tyneside, Yorkshire, and Herfordshire.
Nat Sloane, BIG Lottery Fund England chairman, said: "Reaching Communities continues to enable projects across the country to make big differences to individual lives. This month, young people will be able to draw on vital support whether helping them survive the traumas of family break up or help rehabilitate those drawn into human trafficking."