Opening Eyes & Hearts
Launching our first blog series we introduce key members of the SOHTIS team. Understand their passion, how they came to be involved in anti-human trafficking work and their vision for what SOHTIS can achieve.
Brigadier Paul Harkness is the co-founder of Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland, he also provides strategic planning and change management advice to governments around the world.
We asked Paul
How did you discover the extent of the human trafficking problem in Scotland?
“Like most people, I was aware of human trafficking elsewhere in the world, but never realised it happened in Scotland. It was a BBC Scotland documentary that opened my eyes to the reality of what was happening here at home. Most people have out-dated views of slavery, unaware of the forms it takes in twenty-first century Scotland. Now I know, and you the reader now knows it too, as William Wilberforce said, ‘you may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
What is your main motivation in tackling human trafficking in Scotland?
“During my military career, I witnessed the persecution and exploitation of people around the world. When you have seen suffering on an industrial scale you either close your eyes, mind and heart to what you see, or you promise yourself that you will do something, no matter how small it might be, to help those who can’t help themselves.”
What do you believe could be SOHTIS’ greatest achievement?
“I hope that SOHTIS will make a difference to the lives of those who have been abused and mistreated and help them to re-integrate into society to lead fulfilling lives. As citizens, we can make a difference to those who have suffered in plain sight. If we can highlight their plight and encourage the Scottish population to take a stance against human trafficking, then as a nation we can drive slavery from our country.”
Call to Action
SOHTIS believes everyone deserves to live in freedom with dignity and respect.
There are ways that we can all be involved in being part of the solution to human trafficking in Scotland. Some as simple as raising awareness by following SOHTIS on social media and sharing our posts or volunteering skills, linking us with useful networking contacts or donating funds.
Please get in touch to find out how you can join us in our support of survivors.