A scheme run by the charity Barnardo’s, with funding from the Home Office, has helped 20 at-risk young victims of human trafficking in Croydon over the past 12 months – almost as many as in the whole of the Midlands or in Greater Manchester respectively.
Croydon is the only London borough covered by the trials, in which Barnardo’s expert advocates support, advise, guide and help young people navigate the maze that confronts them when seeking help, such as children’s services and the criminal justice and immigration systems.
The charity worked with 26 children in the south-east, 20 of them in Croydon, 23 in the Midlands and 22 in Greater Manchester.
“We know that children as young as three years old are being trafficked into the country,” said Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan.
“This service offers unique and valuable advocacy support to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in England who have been placed at serious harm by traffickers.
“They may have been coerced with the promise of education or work opportunities, or been threatened and forced into exploitation. Some trafficked children are being sexually abused, while others are enslaved by employers or forced to commit crimes.
“As they may be experiencing the impact of significant trauma our purpose is to support with all aspects of their lives, to be consistent, trusting adults, who enable them to re-build and move on from their experiences.”
The scheme has found children from the other side of the world, lured to this country with the promise of an education, being forced to work in nail bars or illegal cannabis farms.
With the support of advocates from Barnado’s, children and young people who have been exploited can access the support they so desperately need, particularly in relation to their safeguarding. “We are always there for them,” one charity worker said.
- More information on the child trafficking advocacy scheme is available here
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