On the 14th of October 2023 , Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland (SOHTIS), joined with thousands of activists all over the world to shine a spotlight on human trafficking for A21’s 9th annual Walk For Freedom. Over 60 people joined SOHTIS staff and Broughton High School as they walked through Edinburgh city centre to raise awareness of human trafficking happening all around us.
This event is a collective effort led by A21, a global anti-human trafficking organisation dedicated to abolishing slavery everywhere, forever. The Walk For Freedom is a global response to human trafficking, rallying thousands of people in hundreds of cities around the world to walk in silence for the millions who are unseen and enslaved today.
An estimated 1 in every 150 people worldwide are victims of human trafficking. In the UK, over one hundred thousand people are estimated to be victims of human trafficking.and one in three victims recovered in Scotland in recent years were children.
At SOHTIS, we believe everyone deserves to live in freedom with dignity and respect. Working in partnership with others, we encourage, enable and empower those rescued from human trafficking to rebuild their lives and integrate into society.
The sad truth is human trafficking is happening all across Scotland, but, we can all be part of the solution. SOHTIS is proud to stand both with organisations like A21, people across Scotland and those who walked with us in Edinburgh to bring freedom to those who are trapped in exploitation. Like Jakob:
When we first met Jakob, he was suffering trauma, terrified and withdrawn. He had been a victim of human trafficking many times across England and Scotland in car washes, garages and farms. During this time he had often been paid for his labour in alcohol and as a result had struggled with alcohol dependency. Having managed to escape his abusive situation, he was living in extreme poverty with no money for food and in accommodation which he could not afford to heat or furnish. Jackob was ashamed about his situation.
One of our partner organisations were supporting him with food parcels and contacted SOHTIS for additional support. It was then that his trafficking experience came to light. We were able to spend time with Jakob, listening to his story and explaining the different ways he could be supported. The fear of debt weighed heavily on him and as a result his mental health was deteriorating.
We were able to advocate for legal support, meaning that his immigration status became secure, advocated for his financial security as well as providing access to practical support. We secured white goods and other items to help him make his house become a home. Jakob was keen to work, we spent time with him assessing his readiness to work, helping him to reduce barriers and supporting him to access a safe apprenticeship with a local organisation.
Jakob went on to thrive, he was promoted and eventually recruited to another role where he is working to support other vulnerable individuals. His employer has said he is “doing a fantastic job”. He is a crucial member of the team, is well respected, growing in confidence, much more independent and is addiction free. All of this did not come easy for Jakob, everyday was a struggle and he needed consistent support around him. BUT now he is free. There are many more suffering like him and they too should be able to walk free.
Find out more about how you can join SOHTIS in being part of the solution wherever you are here in Scotland: https://sohtis.org/get-on-board/
Call to Action
We can all be involved in being part of the solution to modern slavery and human trafficking in Scotland. Some as simple as raising awareness by following SOHTIS on social media and sharing our posts or joining our volunteer hubs, linking us with useful networking contacts and fundraising or donating funds.
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
POLICE SCOTLAND on 999