Charity calls for more focus on prevention in the fight against present day slavery.
Raising awareness of the existence of modern slavery will not end the exploitation of vulnerable people; more resources need to be focused on prevention if society is serious about tackling this huge social challenge, according to the Foundation for Social Change and Inclusion (FSCI).
“We welcome the courageous work of the Evening Standard and Independent’s investigation into modern slavery,” says Chris Mould, CEO of FSCI, “and we are delighted that Prime Minister May is making this a priority at the United Nations; but we want to add to her comments about raising awareness as a means of tackling the problem in the UK. We want to stop vulnerable young people from being drawn into slavery in the first place. For that to happen governments and businesses have to allocate more resources to organisations that intervene in the lives of at-risk groups to stop their futures being ruined by traffickers, pimps and labour-gang bosses.”
An example of an effective intervention project is FSCI’s House of Opportunity Programme, a network of small group homes that provide residential training and support for state and foster care leavers in SE Europe, a major source area for traffickers. State and foster care leavers are one of the softest targets for criminals; however, by providing them with a safe home in which to finish their education and take their first steps towards employment and a fulfilling life, the House of Opportunity is preventing dozens of young people every year from being dragged into poverty and exploitation.
But the current level of funding means relatively few young people have the opportunity to take this path. “We have limited resources which means we can’t have as great an impact as we know we could have if given the right funding,” explains Teodora Koleva, FSCI’s Bulgaria director. “Traffickers are clever criminals and very able in finding new markets in which to exploit their victims. By working in source countries like those throughout the Balkans we are able to reduce the number of vulnerable young people exposed to the criminals. Houses of Opportunity are cost-effective ways of changing the outcomes for young people at high risk of being trafficked. This is surely better than trying to patch these lives together after the trauma. That is why we are asking that support for prevention at source is added to the list of ways that government, business and media are working for change.”