Sheffield-based Charity ‘The Snowdrop Project’ Receives Almost Half a Million Pound Grant from the Big Lottery Fund in Support of Trafficked Survivors

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Sophie Gower (Senior Caseworker), Rachel Medina (Local co-ordinator) and Lara Bundock (CEO).

The Snowdrop Project is one of the first UK charities providing long term support to survivors of trafficking and has been awarded almost half a million pounds (£411,794) from the Big Lottery Fund in May 2016.

Lara Bundock, The Snowdrop Project CEO, said, “We are thrilled that the big lottery believes in our vision to see survivors of trafficking make a fresh start.  For the last four years we have seen first hand the difference our support can make by reuniting families, furthering police investigations, supporting women into college and university, improving self-esteem and confidence and bringing hope in a new future.  However, we have never known the future of the project as we have been run solely by volunteers.  This money is life changing.  It allows us to increase and improve our support to more survivors, employ staff members and explore new branch opportunities.”

Ruth* (*name changed for safety reasons), a current service user said ‘”To meet people who genuinely believe in you regardless of where you have come from, is one of the most beautiful parts of Snowdrop.  None of us have to struggle with life on our own, Snowdrop walks with us through everything. We have a community and friendships that are there as long as needed and wanted no matter what we are facing in life. They show you that you are worthy of a life of freedom and that the past doesn’t define what any of us can do with our lives. I am so happy and excited that Snowdrop is stable for the next three years thanks to the Big Lottery funding. It brings so much reassurance that Snowdrop will still be here for us for the future so I know we will all be okay for our futures.”

Trafficking is big business and each year traffickers make £22m from their cruel and illegal trade of buying and selling people. Across the globe, large numbers of people living in difficult circumstances are enticed to travel to other places for the prospect of a better life. The reality is that they end up trapped in abusive situations – domestic slavery, forced labour or sexual exploitation.

Whist governments and police forces are working hard to counter the traffickers, the people who come out of 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.

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Denise Lawreson (Volunteer befriender) and Samantha Kirby (Volunteer caseworker) helping renovate a client’s home

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.
In the UK, after a survivor of human trafficking leaves the government-funded safe house after a limited period (roughly 45 days), there is no official channel of support as they move into the community. Without support to navigate the complexities of legal battles, finding a safe income, overcoming the mental and physical trauma of slavery and developing a new life, it leaves a vulnerable people group at further risk of homelessness, complex mental health problems, isolation, debt, exploitation and re-trafficking.  Lara explained, “Survivors of human trafficking suffer unbelievable physical and psychological trauma from which it can take a long time to recover.  Unfortunately, government support is only provided for a limited period which is often not sufficient for dealing with the long-lasting consequences and often comes to an abrupt end leaving people isolated, confused and at risk of further harm and exploitation.

The Snowdrop Project was established in Sheffield in 2012 to begin to address this gap, ensuring that survivors have long-lasting support and access to key services such as counselling, advocacy, legal advice, housing, education and training.  It is one of the first organisations in the UK to concentrate on developing long-term post-safe house support to trafficking survivors. Snowdrop’s support starts where the government finishes and typically lasts between 6 months and 2 years.

The project has run entirely on volunteers and currently has successfully supported 35 women into independence through a specialist one-to-one outreach service and counselling.  The aim of Snowdrop is to support trafficked people to overcome the trauma of their past and move towards living independently in the community; gaining control of their own lives.

The Snowdrop Project has been recognised beyond Sheffield for its achievement. In 2013 they were the recipient of the ‘Marsh Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Fight Against Human Trafficking 2013’ and in 2015 Snowdrop was approached to co-author the report ‘Life Beyond the Safe House’ (2015) with the Human Trafficking Foundation.

For more information and requests for interviews, please contact either Lara Bundock or Rachel Medina at info@snowdropproject.co.uk or 07881 997 983.