Trafficking is big business – each year traffickers make £19m from their cruel and illegal trade. Across the globe, large numbers of people living in difficult circumstances are enticed to travel to other countries for the prospect of a better life. The reality is that they end up trapped in abusive situations – domestic slavery, forced labour or prostitution.
Whist governments and police forces are working hard to counter the traffickers, those people who are rescued from trafficking need significant support. For many, it is not safe to return home and survivors need help in rebuilding their lives and avoiding situations where they can fall prey to traffickers again. Providing this support is the mission of Snowdrop, a Sheffield charity developing a national reputation for its work providing longer term support for survivors of trafficking.
Women who have been trafficked are generally offered short term support in a safe house. Snowdrop aims to provide longer term assistance, addressing the many and complex issues which the women face. Through one to one casework Snowdrop supports survivors to navigate potentially complicated legal procedures, reunite families, apply for welfare benefits, obtain housing and find education or work. Snowdrops trained volunteers offer both individually tailored programmes and group activities to help the women integrate with the local community. A key milestone for many women is getting their own accommodation, and teams of Snowdrop volunteers work with the women to renovate and equip their new homes. The longer term aim is to enable survivors to live independent lives so that the can become fully contributing members of society.
The development of Snowdrop to its current status as a registered charity has been largely driven by the vision and commitment of Lara Bundock, Snowdrop’s Chief Executive. From her work with trafficked women, Lara recognised that the support needed by women who had been trafficked went far beyond the limitations of a short term safe house placement, and she began working with a group of volunteers to develop and provide an integrated longer term support package. Two years on, Snowdrop is now a registered charity, supporting trafficked women in the Sheffield area whilst also providing training for agencies across the country.
On the 7th May Snowdrop is one of the organisations hosting ‘Sheffield Stands against Slavery’ – a film festival to raise awareness about trafficking. For more information, or if you are interested in volunteering or donating visit http://snowdropproject.co.uk/
This article was first published in the Sheffield Star 5th May 2015