This is a very exciting moment for me for a few reasons. One being that since feeling so passionately about raising awareness for issues of human rights I have felt particularly strongly about human trafficking. Reading Gary Haugen’s book The Locust Effect opened my eyes to a world of sexual exploitation and horror that I previously knew little about. As I read the book I would suddenly start ranting and raving to my poor husband about the things I was being confronted with and my outrage and desperate upset were hard to contain. It is an issue that stirs me to the core and to actually be able to volunteer in this field is an incredible opportunity to make a difference. The second reason is that when setting up this blog I dedicated one section to “Personal Race” and whilst I enjoy writing personal reflections about injustice and what we can do to become more aware, I had really intended it to be a section dedicated to what I personally am doing to try and make a difference. Being able to now write about the impact I can try and make in the world of human trafficking is such a personal achievement for me and one which I am excited to share with you all.
Back in September last year, before setting up Let’s Run The Race, I did an extensive search to see if I could find any local opportunities to work/volunteer in human trafficking. I found nothing and it was through feeling disheartened that day and desperate to make a difference that I set up Lets Run The Race. Amazingly enough, a few weeks ago I found a Christian ministry event in Aberdeen that I saw advertised on Facebook. I clicked “Interested” and suddenly a whole load of other events that I might be interested in popped up. One of these was an event for a charity called City Hearts, that is in the process of opening a human trafficking safe house in Aberdeen, to come along and find out more. Sadly it was the weekend of my counselling course so I contacted the event organiser and explained that despite not being able to attend, I would love to find out more and potentially volunteer. I was emailed the relevant information and checked out their email website and very quickly knew that this opportunity was just what I’d been looking for.
City Hearts is a charity set up by a lady called Jenny Gilpin to reach vulnerable people who have suffered exploitation. There are a number of City Hearts safe houses throughout the country some of which are for male survivors of trafficking and others for women and children. They are dedicated to providing hands on immediate care to those who have either been rescued or who have escaped from human trafficking. They provide a safe place where healing and restoration can take place whilst providing medical treatment, counselling support, legal support, dental care, further education, bank accounts and identification which will most likely have been taken from them. They have also partnered with the Co-op to provide survivors a months paid work experience at the end of which they will be offered an interview for a job. Other organisations are beginning to join this initiative to provide a consistent opportunity to survivors of human trafficking to support themselves and build a new life.
Alongside the safe house there will also be opening a drop in cafe where any survivor, known or unknown to City Hearts, can come and spend time. It is through this service that City Hearts are able to assist the police with their investigations as many survivors will come along and share information about other trafficked men/women and where they might be being held. It is a service that supports all the City Hearts safe houses and is integral to the work they do.
So after deciding that I was really keen to apply, I filled in the application form and sent it back with the hope of getting an interview, which I did! I had my interview a couple of weeks ago now and I am so thrilled to say I have been offered a volunteer position. This is the next stage of my journey and one that I cannot wait to get started on. I know that it will be tough work and emotionally painful but I believe it will be completely worth it. Is there anything greater than helping another human being? I am also hoping that my counselling course will provide me with tools and skills to be prepare me for what is to come. Equally my love of art and drawing is something I will have the opportunity to use as I have been asked if I can give the girls in the house art lessons. I feel privileged and blessed to find myself in this position.
City Hearts Aberdeen are still in the process of setting the safe house up and are in great news to fundraising and any support. If you think you can help in anyway or would like to contribute to fundraising then please click on the link below. It would make a huge difference to the charity and the lives of the girls who will be living at the safe house. City Hearts also have space for girls dealing with life debilitating addictions and they are provided with a rehabilitation course called Restore to see them to complete recovery. Your support is greatly appreciated and if you would like to share this article and join with me in raising awareness for City Hearts that would be amazing. Thank you.
Please visit City Hearts here
Go Fund Me Fundraising link