Plight of Sheffield trafficking victims highlighted in lockdown

With domestic violence soaring during the COVID pandemic, a Sheffield anti-trafficking charity is raising awareness of the desperate plight of victims of modern slavery during lockdown.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 10:52 am
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 1:57 pm

City Hearts has created ‘Isolation Stations’ and is helping vulnerable trafficking survivors across the city access health care and offer guidance in education and employability.Kirsty Allan, development manager at City Hearts, said: "Most victims already have restricted access to health care. Experience shows their traffickers are unlikely to allow them to engage with health services and during lockdown may dump them on the streets when they become very ill.

“Traffickers will also be losing significant income generated from exploitation, meaning they may not provide basic necessities such as food and shelter to victims. “For many of our rescued clients, whose freedom was taken from them during their time in exploitation, being isolated from their loved ones, feeling alone, controlled and helpless is sadly an all-too familiar story."We offer immediate and long-term support, including medical, educational and employment assistance, which all helps survivors to build independence and find lasting freedom. Now, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, some of City Hearts' safe houses across the UK are self-isolating (on lockdown), meaning many clients are in an extremely challenging situation. Because of the similarities to their time in exploitation, we are concerned they are facing traumatic flashbacks and other symptoms which have a negative impact on their mental health, however we are doing everything we can to help alleviate the negative impact."Ed Newton, CEO, said: "We are doing everything we can to support our clients' mental health and wellbeing at this time, including telephone support where face-to-face is not possible and online counselling.”Staff members have also introduced their own initiatives such as Isolation Station, which uses music, art, photography, baking and exercise to bring fun and community spirit while in lockdown.

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