Walk for Freedom

On the 16th of October, SOHTIS in partnership with Broughton High Scool, Edinburgh, hosted A21’s 7th annual Walk for Freedom. Politicians, campaigners and faith leaders came together with abolitionists all over the world, to shine a spotlight on modern slavery and human trafficking. 

Human trafficking, the buying and selling of men, women and children has been found in every part of Scotland. It’s a misunderstood and hidden crime and those recovered in Scotland are thought only to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with many more remaining enslaved.

This silent, single-file walk on behalf of the millions who are trapped in modern slavery is a collective effort led by A21, a global anti-human trafficking organisation dedicated to abolishing slavery everywhere, forever.  It rally’s tens of thousands of people in cities around the world to walk for the millions enslaved today.

Manager, Joy Gillespie, said, ‘Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS) the victims of these crimes are living alongside us, hidden in plain sight, often providing us with goods and services whilst enduring unimaginable suffering.  We all have a role to play in ending this horrendous crime, know how to spot the signs and report what we see’.  The charity is working to recover victims as well as supporting the long-term wellbeing of survivors.  People like Zana who was recovered following being held in a private dwelling for domestic servitude and is now recovering and looking forward to being reunited with her family. Or like Ronnie who escaped forced labour and was badly beaten, fearful and rough sleeping. He was recovered and is now safe with his family and receiving specialist support. 

In 2019, A21 inspired 500 walks in 50 countries around the world. Collectively, there were over 85 million people reached through social media. Each step mattered. Every step made a difference.  But there are millions who have yet to be freed—and so we continue to walk, to show up, and to raise awareness for the victims in our city, our country and around the globe still trapped in slavery. This year our local actions will multiply into a greater global impact than ever before.

‘As national Faith Leaders we recognise that human trafficking exists in Scotland.  It is our fundamental conviction that all people are equal and entitled to the same rights of freedom, dignity and respect.  We regard the exploitation of men, women and children as a crime against humanity and we reject trafficking and the activities it supports in our country and worldwide.  As Faith Leaders, we commit to working with SOHTIS, the Scottish Government and other organisations to develop effective approaches to recognising and tackling human trafficking in Scotland and supporting the survivors.’
Statement Ratified by Senior Faith Leaders in Scotland

Scottish politicians lined up to give their support:

‘Human trafficking and exploitation is completely unacceptable. The 7th annual Walk for Freedom will, I hope, raise awareness and ultimately help identify victims, enabling access to support and recovery, while bringing those who profit from these horrific offences to justice.’
Ash Denholm MSP, Minister for Community Safety

‘I am very much looking forward to attending the Global Walk for Freedom event in Edinburgh. It is of the utmost importance that we do everything we can to bring an end to human trafficking. It will be great to see people turning out to stand in solidarity with those in bondage and raising money to ensure that we move towards a future in which human trafficking is resigned to a page in a history book.’
Jeremy Balfour MSP, Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party

‘Human trafficking is one of the most vile crimes against another human being and tackling it requires a multi-agency approach. That’s why the Scottish Government has got to be reminded of its international obligations to make sure that addressing this crime remains high on the agenda.’
Pauline McNeill MSP, Spokesperson for Justice, Scottish Labour Party

‘As trafficking is still a prevalent issue in Scotland, it is vital that we both raise public attention and offer support to those affected. Victims of human trafficking are some of the most vulnerable in our society and sadly victims are often children, as a result of drug trade. Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland does a brilliant job of offering training and long term support to these victims. As a society, we must do all we can to put a stop to human trafficking which is something the Scottish Liberal Democrats remain deeply committed to.’
Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP, Leader Liberal Democrats

Please get in touch to find out how you can join us in bringing freedom.

If you have suspicions, or concerns about anyone in your neighbourhood or your contact the MODERN SLAVERY HELPLINE on 08000 121 700, if there is immediate danger contact

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