OPINION: City gives a lifeline for victims of abuse

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The feature by Claire Lewis on pages 8 and 9 of today’s Star tells some heartbreaking and harrowing stories of women who have been trapped into sex trafficking.

Women who were conned by cynical abusers to move to the UK and then fed the fantasy of a better life and a decent job.

Many will have arrived full of hope that they could begin to help their families at home, only to find they had fallen victim to violent men who forced them into prostitution.

The stories of what the women went through are tough enough to read.

It is almost unimaginable that anyone could have endured and somehow survived.

It must take incredible strength to try to rebuild your life after so much pain and terror, that in some of the worst cases lasted for many years.

Thankfully, Sheffield held out a helping hand for those women who found thmselves in a strange city and country with no family or friends to turn to.

The story of one woman who escaped and got help in Sheffield also led to a city police operation tackling human trafficking that is now a national crime agency.

The Hope City Church, whose senior pastor was herself the child of a gang rape victim, decided to do something to help.

They set up the City Hearts programme to give practical advice and support to the victims, including providing a roof over their heads.

They have also gone further and set up a programme in Ghana to explain the dangers that young 
African men and women could be getting themselves into by moving abroad.

Sheffield was the original City of Sanctuary and it has long been somewhere that people fleeing war and upheaval in their homelands could come to and feel welcomed and valued.

That is something we should all feel proud of.

So many people who have come to the city from all parts of the globe can now make a positive contribution to their adopted home.

All they needed was the chance to to it.

We have also written recently about how so many people in the city have decided to give practical help to refugees and asylum seekers who find themselves trying to survive in makeshift camps in France and further afield.

It’s a simple human reaction to be moved by the plight of someone else and try to give them solidarity and a helping hand.

Because life is increasingly unpredictable for all of us.

You simply never know when it could be you praying that someone, somewhere will care enough to help.