I’m very saddened to discover that the plan to redirect the funding and responsibility for caring for victims of trafficking from the Poppy Project to the Salvation Army has become reality today.
As I detailed in a previous blog, over the past few years the Poppy Project has been doing a fantastic job rehabilitating trafficked women. Victims of trafficking were able to stay in the secure accommodation provided by the charity for usually between three and eight months during which time trafficked women were provided with secure accommodation, therapy, English language skills, legal advice and healthcare. They have also been running helplines and advisory services for victims of trafficking.
The redirecting of funds to the Salvation Army, who are planning to cut the amount of resources spent on each individual, means that the duration which women may spend in rehabilitation will be halved and vital aspects of their current services will be discarded.
I am also deeply uneasy that this extremely important and complex issue is being taken out of the hands of specialised providers and given to an organisation that does not have the same level of expertise or experience. There are also serious concerns that entrusting the care of trafficked women to an avowedly religious organisation could lead to conflicts of interests should these women be of a different religion, require abortion services, or be homosexual.
The Poppy Project argue that this decision is politically motivated as the Poppy Project has successfully appealed 17 UK Border Agency decisions on identification of trafficking victims and forced countless reassessments.
It is clear therefore that despite government promises to the contrary, this decision highlights that they fundamentally fail to understand or care about this issue. Abigail Stepnitz, the national co-ordinator for the Poppy Project Eaves charity, points to letters from officials, which concede that, while the rape experienced by victims is “unfortunate”, it does not qualify them for government help – a shining example of the so-called ‘compassion’ shown by this Tory-led coalition.
Women who have experienced trafficking need specialised rehabilitation given by people who understand what they have been through, not a generic “salvation service”. This is just another example of how this government fails to understand the needs of the most vulnerabe in our society, women in particular. The Poppy Project is determined to try and continue providing their essential service but this now relies on charitable donations. Could I urge all who recognise this for the important issue it is to visit their website and donate what you can.