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Rescue charity to open more ‘hubs’

04 April 2014

A CHRISTIAN anti-trafficking charity helped to rescue 57 victims of modern slavery last year in the UK, and said this week that it planned to increase its work.

Hope for Justice, which was founded in 2009, runs regional "hubs" of investigators who rescue and rehabilitate those who have been trafficked. In 2013, their first hub, in the north-east, assisted 104 victims, and helped to rescue 57.

Gareth Russell, who runs Hope for Justice's partnerships with churches, said: "We are going to open another hub in the Midlands soon, and we're aiming to have nine in total - one for each police region - over the next few years."

Each hub has about half a dozen investigators who train churches, social services, and other groups so that they can spot potential victims of human trafficking. When these organisations report possible victims to Hope for Justice, the investigators then place the alleged traffickers under surveillance. If there is evidence of trafficking, they refer the situation to the police.

Hope for Justice said that last year they trained 729 people in dealing with human trafficking. They also provided legal advice and support for victims, and have successfully appealed against decisions to cut benefits for those who have been rescued from slavery.

There are no reliable statistics on how many people are held in modern slavery in the UK, but Mr Russell said that the usual police figure of 2000 to 5000 was probably too low.

The tide is turning, however. Mr Russell said that the issue of human trafficking was far more prominent in the media than it used to be, and that churches, especially, were more aware of problem.

"I work with churches to help build the rescue network. It's not exclusively an urban crime: it's a rural issue as well, with a lot of forced labour on farms, for instance," he said.

Besides raising awareness, churches could also pray for Hope for Justice, Mr Russell said. "We are going into some dark places, and we need to have the prayer support."

Hope for Justice's next Hope Conference is in September this year, in Leicester. 

hopeforjustice.org.uk/events

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