My introduction to volunteering began when a good friend of mine used her well-honed persuasive skills to convince me I had to help. I had thought about volunteering before – I liked the idea of it but in reality saw it as a commitment I wasn’t sure I could keep. I have a job, I have a family, and I have a life. My friend had other plans for me…
The more I learned about human trafficking the more appalled I became. In 2017 it is shocking that there is a need for long term aftercare for the victims of sexual slavery; being used as a commodity, forced into prostitution and treated inhumanely. Sexual slavery is a truth that needs to be exposed and it needs to be stopped.
Women have experienced the most extreme and persistent abuse imaginable; physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial. What we can imagine barely covers the extent of abuse they are at the receiving end of. The more of this I became aware of, the less I was able to ignore. You simply cannot ‘unknow’ these horrors.
Meeting women that have survived such trauma is humbling. They have endured degrading and abhorrent treatment on a daily basis, and yet somehow found ways to cope, survive and escape. They cannot be expected to fall back into normality. They need and deserve the time to adjust, rest, be accepted and to learn how to feel human again. My time can help give them that.
Of course there are times – particularly on a blustery wintry evening after a long hectic day working the ‘day’ job- that when driving to do my volunteer session, I would rather be heading home. I’d rather be getting comfortable, curl up in front of the fire and watch imaginary dramas on the TV instead. However I remind myself how fickle that sounds and how fortunate I really am. What makes it so much easier is that the safe house is not the depressing environment you might imagine, it is a lively, busy and homely place that feels like a family. I have met lots of women volunteers from a wide range of backgrounds that in ordinary circumstances I wouldn’t have encountered and for this I feel grateful.
The volunteers have surprised me. I expected to find people that I am embarrassed to admit I might previously have seen as ‘do-gooders’, naïve privileged women looking for a cause in between coffee morning and baking cupcakes. I now think very differently, and if I am a ‘do-gooder’ then so be it. At ITGB I am in great company, the woman are inspirational each bringing their own talents (including baking!), professional skills and experience to change the lives of women they had never met. Together we are a force to be reckoned with.
None of us actually want to volunteer. Volunteering is restrictive and limiting, and we don’t want to be going ‘cap in hand’ asking for charitable donations. What we really are fighting for is proper funding to be able to continue providing the care and therapeutic safe place survivors of human trafficking deserve.
We are fighting for increased awareness; forced prostitution is happening, it’s happening in our own communities and it’s happening in 2017. We owe it to the victims to do something about it.
So I am a Do-gooder because I now truly recognise these issues and can no longer Do-nowt!
If you, or someone you know, would like to volunteer their time to support the work we do, on our website you can find more information on getting involved, volunteering and donating. You can also subscribe to future updates.