Kirsty Allan is the newest addition to the SOHTIS Team we are delighted to welcome her. We asked Kirsty about her involvement in anti-trafficking work and her vision for this new Scottish role.
We asked Kirsty
Share a little bit of your experience being involved in anti-trafficking work?
I have had the most amazing opportunity to be involved in anti-trafficking work for the past seven years. The seeds were planted when during my undergraduate studies in Social Work I went to on an overseas trip to the Philippines. There I came across my first experience of “human trafficking”, although I had no idea at the time this was what it was. The selling of human beings had never crossed my mind. I was working at a local Government hospital and a young woman with newborn twins in her arms approached me. She asked me if I could buy one of her babies in order that she could pay her medical bills. I was immediately alarmed by this injustice and was able to assist her with her medical bills without buying her child.
This story never really left my mind, and some years later I was offered the position of Anti-Trafficking Manager with City Hearts UK, based in England. For the last seven years I have worked with the charity and seen the reality of trafficking and modern slavery in England. Over this time I have worked with Police and others to rescue victims, managed several safe houses and outreach programmes and been responsible for the care of many survivors of trafficking.
I have had the privilege of meeting and journeying with some of the world’s strongest and bravest people. People from many different walks of life who sadly were trafficked and became modern day slaves. I have walked through some dark days with them and witnessed some of the happiest moments of their lives. It is a joy and an honour to call this my occupation.
What does success look like for you in your work and what are some of the challenges you have faced in achieving it?
For me, success is seeing a survivor smile for the first time. To you, that may seem something small and insignificant. However, when you see a survivor smile for the first time in a long time, knowing the heartache and the hurt of their story, it is worth every second of the time you have invested. Reaching this point is often difficult, there are so many obstacles and so many haunting memories that will always exist. That first smile speaks volumes, it is the signs of hope, that there can still be joy amidst tragedy and that they recognise there is a future.
What is your main motivation in tackling human trafficking in Scotland?
I am originally from Scotland, I love this country and I am proud to be Scottish. In my work in England, over the last seven years, I have seen so many people rescued and empowered to live a life of freedom. I would love to see the same happening in Scotland; communities recognising what human trafficking is and for more and more people to be rescued. We must become better at understanding, recognising and dealing with human trafficking in Scotland. Ultimately, I want people trapped in slavery in Scotland to be rescued, and able to live the lives that they deserve.
What do you hope can be achieved by SOHTIS’ Project Light?
I am excited about this new opportunity to work with SOHTIS and to partner with agencies, sectors and communities in Edinburgh, to shine a light into dark places and release people from the situations of trafficking that they find themselves in. Project Light feels like we are igniting hope into people’s lives so that they can experience freedom, have their dignity returned and live the life they deserve.
Find out more about https://sohtis.org/project-light/
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.