Category Archives: Blog

What Does it Take to Celebrate?

Riding the bus with confidence, opening and understanding your mail with ease, taking your child to the cinema, going for a coffee with a friend, explaining ailments to the doctor… these are all things that we can take for granted as people who have access to a reasonable income. For a survivor of human trafficking, these day to day activities can be distressing or could be missing from their daily routine all together.

Snowdrop offers a range of services which can help survivors to gain control and confidence in their lives as well as to integrate well into their local community. Community activities, education and employment services such as: weekly English classes; a partnership with the Co-op Bright Futures’ work experience programme; a befriending service and creative and skill-based classes, aim to support survivors during their journey to recovery.

But have you ever thought about your ability to celebrate your religion or culture with ease and jollity?
How this festivity relies heavily on your financial capacity and relations within a close-knit community with whom you can celebrate, be it your place of worship, your friends or your family?

Periods of celebration, when the general public’s well-being is often brimming with good-feeling, can be the most isolating and depressing times for those who already find themselves in adversity, far from their families and loved ones.

At the Snowdrop Project, we believe that everyone should have access to religious and cultural celebration. We believe that this celebration has hugely beneficial effects on survivors and on the children of survivors in terms of their mental health, reducing social isolation and restoring strength in faith and hope for their bright futures.

Cooking and sharing food with a group of people with whom you feel comfortable and by whom you feel valued, not only fulfils the basic physical needs of nutrition for survivors struggling to feed themselves and their children, but also the physiological need of community for those who feel lonely.

Staff and Volunteers at Snowdrop’s Eid Celebration 2017

Snowdrop service users are from lots of different religious and cultural backgrounds but all are always welcome at our seasonal events. Cultural enrichment is one of the many rewards the city of Sheffield reaps as it strives to welcome migrants and refugees into its society.

Neelam, one of our senior Case Workers who helped organise this year’s celebration of Eid says:

‘Many of our clients who celebrate Eid al-Fitr are away from their homes and their families, this can be a very hard time. The party was a way to allow people to come together, enjoy good food and music. My personal highlight was the sound of laughter in the room and seeing the smiles on our clients’ faces, oh yes, and the dancing!’

While Robyn*, a survivor at Snowdrop, beamed during our Christmas party last year:

‘It felt very warm, I got the feeling I was amongst my own family members and… it was extraordinary during Christmas and the New Year.’

Henna Art by a survivor at Snowdrop’s Christmas Party 2016

Snowdrop can only continue to help survivors celebrate what is important to them through kind donations, if you would like to support Snowdrop you can donate here.

If this blog post has inspired you to get involved with the Snowdrop Project to support survivors of human trafficking and help them to integrate into their local community you can find out more about our Befriending Volunteer role at our Get Involved page here. We will be recruiting new volunteers at the end of August.

When the Signs are Hiding in Plain Sight

A member of staff at the Snowdrop Project tells their story about spotting the signs of modern slavery and ringing the Modern Slavery Helpline. 

It’s safe to say I live in an unremarkable area; my street is lined with trees, full of semi-detached houses with a car sitting outside each one of them. It’s an average street with average neighbours – who tend to keep themselves to themselves. But several things in this ordinary suburb began to catch my eye, and started to make me feel a little uncomfortable.

Around three weeks ago, I was returning home from a run. Sweaty and out of breath I plodded down my road at an attempt to ‘cool down’ when I noticed the bins outside a house at the top of my road – they were so full they overflowed with rubbish. I thought it was a bit odd, after all our bins had only been collected five days previously. This made me think, I had never seen anyone leave or enter this house before. But I continued past and put it down to the fact they must have missed this week’s bin collection.

Later that same week I arrived home and struggled to park my car, to my annoyance I noticed a large mini bus with a Romanian number plate, which didn’t normally park on my road, taking up a huge amount of space.

A week later, after this van’s continued but sporadic presence outside the house with the brimming bins, I noticed the same white van at our local supermarket. I was intrigued to see who owned the van that was taking up precious parking spaces. I was taken aback. It wasn’t just one person who got out the van – but several men between the ages of 20 and 50, all wearing quite scruffy clothing. They all went into the shop whilst one man hung back waiting by the van, smoking a cigarette. It solved the mystery of the bulging bins.

Through coincidence, I found myself behind the van when I pulled onto my road. As I unloaded my shopping from the car, I counted 9 men getting out of the van all of whom went straight into the house looking exhausted, dirty and skittish. For me, something didn’t feel quite right.

Alarm bells began to go off in my mind; except from in the supermarket, I hadn’t seen any of these men apart from when getting in and out of the van. I know the signs of modern slavery and for me I felt there were these indicators:

  • Is their movement being restricted?
  • Are they reliant on their ’employer’ for transport?
  • Is their accommodation linked to an ‘employer’?
  • Are they being made to shop somewhere they might not have chosen?

Even though I work in anti-trafficking I must be honest, I felt fleeting apprehension about calling the Modern Slavery Helpline. I felt like they might think I was overreacting. I weighed it up in my mind; I know how useful even the smallest bit of information can be for identifying potential victims of modern slavery. Even if those men were completely fine, I couldn’t sleep without reporting my concerns to people who can make further investigations into their well-being.

I opened the website and reported my concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline. They responded within hours via email and asked me to call on a free helpline. The person I spoke to was not judgmental and reassured me that my concerns were valid, I could make the report completely anonymously and I felt relieved knowing that they would follow it up.

I hope that it is nothing and that those 9 men are not being exploited; that they have the freedom to leave the house when they want, that they are being paid a fair wage and that their accommodation is of a decent standard. However, if it isn’t, I know that the people who can help know where they live and the number plate of the van they are being transported in.

If you’re concerned someone maybe being exploited or want to learn more about spotting the signs and reporting a concern, go to the Modern Slavery Helpline here.

To learn about our support to survivors once they have been through government provision read more about what we do.