Plan to create Sheffield jobs for traffiking survivors

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A Sheffield woman who set up her own jewellery brand to raise money for global victims of trafficking now plans to employ female survivors on her own doorstep.

Rachel Salway, 40, quit a 15-year career in leisure and retail management and recruitment to sell Fair Trade jewellery and fashion online and by party-plan after visiting India and Africa.

“The poverty and suffering I saw changed my life. I decided I wanted to empower people in those countries by giving them trade, rather than aid,” said Rachel, of Westfield.

She set up in business in June 2013, initially sourcing fair trade products to sell via her online store by forming partnerships with trade organisations. Then after being shocked by the case of a woman who was trafficked into Sheffield from Uganda and was held captive for six years, she turned her focus to helping support traffick victims.

She started a website campaign, STOP the Traffick!, to raise money for five survivor charities, including Sheffield’s Snowdrop Project, the only one in the UK to provide extended support to victims after their 45-day programme of UK government support ends, plus the Salvation Army’s Victim Support Programme and Sheffield charity City Hearts.

Rachel designed a collection of STOP the Traffick! bracelets – with £5 from each sale going to charity – and began employing Asian survivors of trafficking to make them.

Now she is determined to set up a safehouse workshop in Sheffield where survivors can learn the art of jewellery-making and earn income, as many don’t receive any state benefits.

“When I started the campaign I wasn’t aware of the extent of the trafficking problem here. When the Rotherham sex scandal and similar problems were exposed across the country, it opened my eyes. The UK Government Home Affairs Committee estimates that between 100,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked into the EU each year and in 2015 I want to help survivors who end up in Sheffield,” she said.

Rachel aims to take on two women initially and acknowledges the HR issues of employing people at such a vulnerable time in their lives will be great: “They have gone through such trauma. I’ve done caseworker training with the Snowdrop Project to assist me and hope to use my managerial skills to devise personal development plans and vocational training schemes for the women I employ.”

She hopes other local companies will follow her lead. “These people have a lot of worth. They just need their talents to be brought to the surface in a safe and supportive work environment,” she said.

There are now 40 different bracelets on Rachel’s website, including a limited edition to support her local employment project. She hopes Human Trafficking Awareness Day this Sunday, January 11, will boost sales.