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Support Safehouses for Trafficking Victims

The Purple Teardrop Campaign fund-raises to support victims that have been rescued from sex trafficking. Rescued victims are cared for in specialist safe houses.

Safe housing in the UK is provided by government funding delivered by the Salvation Army, and by other often faith-based organisations. Safe housing gives trafficked victims a haven from violence and abuse.

In addition to health care, safe housing provides emotional support and practical help such as translation services and legal assistance. Safe house care is holistic with the aim of enabling victims to re-build their shattered lives and to start taking control of their future. Most importantly, great care is taken to prevent victims from being re-trafficked.

The Purple Teardrop Campaign is supporting Bournemouth Churches Housing Association’s Liberty Project. Here is the story of ‘Claire’ one of the trafficking victims supported by the Liberty Project and the support that she is receiving.  You can help to support victims like Claire by making a donation, purchasing pin badges, becoming a member or holding a fund-raiser.

Claire is a 20 year old female who originates from Africa. Forced into marriage at 18, Claire received regular beatings as it was believed she had brought shame to her husband as she was not a virgin.  She overheard her father and husband planning her murder (known as an honour killing).

Claire escaped to a village where a “friend” kept her in hiding.  She was introduced to a man from Nigeria who promised to help her escape to the UK where could work and gain an education.  Claire agreed and was brought to the UK on a false passport.

Claire was taken to London, where she was immediately forced into sexual exploitation, often having to have sex with up to five or six men a day.  After a few weeks, Claire managed to escape through an open window and was directed to a police station by a member of the public.

Claire had been told by her trafficker that if she came into contact with police or any person in authority, her younger brother would be harmed if she disclosed any information regarding her sexual exploitation.

Claire advised the police that she has entered the UK under a false passport and was subsequently sent to prison. During her time in custody, Claire was subjected to bullying and intimidation which added to her distress.  However, she was able to disclose her experiences and a referral was made to the Salvation Army. Claire was released and was placed with the BCHA Liberty Project.

When Claire first arrived, she showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and expressed that she no longer wanted to live.  She arrived at the service with little more than the clothes she was wearing and showed staff evidence of significant bruising and scarring. She was fearful of any males and found it difficult to leave her accommodation for fear of being found. She was unable to sleep at night as she suffered from recurring nightmares about her experiences at the hands of her trafficker.

Since being accommodated at the Liberty Project, Claire has started to rebuild her life. She is receiving specialist sexual abuse counselling, has access to a solicitor who is supporting her with her claim for asylum as she does not feel that she is able to return home.

We have been able to provide her with essential items and some additional luxuries, such as a birthday and a Christmas present, bubble bath and clothes. Claire had never experienced a visit to a hair salon or received a gift and broke down when this was given to her.  Many of the female residents do not have access to essential items such as hair dryers.

Claire has told staff that she now feels safe; she has a mobile phone which allows her to call for support 24 hours a day. She is improving her English language skills and is accessing support from BCHA learning services.

She now feels able to interact with others and has built healthy and trusting peer relationships with other residents of the Liberty Project, including males, which has been very positive.

BCHA very much recognize the value of peer support and organising such activities as day trips and value the opportunity of accessing funds from the Purple Teardrop Campaign to facilitate this.