We are so pleased to be able to introduce you to our brand new team member, Ian Spiers.
Ian has joined us part-time as our Education Officer, taking our work with young people in Schools & Youth settings to the next level. A big part of Ian’s role will be equipping teachers and youth workers to deliver our resources on human trafficking & exploitation – supporting them in delivery and signposting. It’s so good to add to our team and Ian comes with a wealth of experience and ability.
We thought we’d let you get to know Ian a bit better by interviewing him here:
Ian! Welcome to the team! How did you first learn about us here at Freedom Acts?
Well, about 4 years ago I had met Mel and Laura at one of their training sessions when they were delivering work as Craigavon ACT, and was aware of the great work being carried out by the group back then.
Tell us a bit about your new role?
In my new roll as Education Officer, I will be meeting with a wide range of people to offer assistance, guidance and training in the wide, diverse and emotive subject of human trafficking, grooming, CSE and other forms of exploitation.
What drew you to want to work with us?
Firstly, I was aware of the great work being undertaken by the Freedom Acts team and I wanted to become part of that team to provide guidance and support, to those who are vulnerable to exploitation and to inform others that are in a position to help.
Secondly as I come from an education background and have a knowledge Human Trafficking, I felt that I had something useful to bring to the team.
Before working at Freedom Acts, what was the most unusual or interesting job or role you’ve ever had?
I have and continue to work in the field of mental health and well-being. Which is interesting and demanding, but also a very rewarding. I think it is similar in a way to my new role as I am assisting and guiding those who need help to deal with a difficulty at a particular time in their lives.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
I am a dog lover and I can’t stand any type of animal cruelty. But my peeve is owners allowing their dogs to foul in public places and not picking it up!
Ugh. Yes – that is the worst. So – what is your favourite guilty pleasure?
Chocolate in the evening. Every evening.
Where is one place you would LOVE to travel to?
I love city breaks, however I would love to go to the Seychelles and chill out on a silver white beach.
Wouldn’t we all Ian! Maybe we can arrange that for our next Team Day…! Really though, what are you most looking forward to about your new role in Freedom Acts?
I know there is more to the role but I get my real buzz from actually delivering sessions. I am just really looking forward to getting on with it all!
Finally, what 3 words would you use to describe Freedom Acts?
Awesome. Thanks Ian for sharing with us, and please do feel free to contact Ian if you would like to meet with him to talk about how he can work alongside your School or Youth provision. Ian can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org
The training side of our work has been really exciting this year as we have developed partnerships and seen new opportunities come our way. We really love getting out to meet professionals and tailoring information and workshops to meet their needs in their role and context.
We spend time with such a vast array of key professionals, from training on human trafficking with the Human Trafficking Team from the Dept. of Justice to Prison Staff at Maghaberry Prison, to staff at Larne House (short-term holding centre for immigration detainees) to key safeguarding staff within the Southern Health & Social Care Trust.
Each session is as important as the next as we equip people to identify and respond to the indicators of exploitation.
We have trained over 500 people since June 2014, and are gearing up for some more significant sessions coming soon.
Throughout the month of December last year, we were able to run workshops on the issue of CSE with several key groups and professionals in our community. This included Leisure & Hospitality Staff, Transportation Staff, Youth and Community Workers and Elected Representatives.
CSE is a form of child sexual abuse which sees children and young people manipulated or forced by their abuser into taking part in some form of sexual activity in return for something the young person needs or wants, for example affection, alcohol, drugs, accommodation and can happen to any young person regardless of social or ethnic background. It is happening in Northern Ireland.
The SBNI campaign ‘The More You Know, The More You See’ aims to increase public awareness around this form of child sexual abuse by targeting members of the public, including key groups, who may have the opportunity to recognise Child Sexual Exploitation and take appropriate action if they have concerns.
As a local project working to prevent exploitation we were pleased to partner up with the Safeguarding Board NI and Craigavon PCSP to promote the responsibility of the whole community in protecting young people from exploitation. If we are informed, we can respond!
We had some incredible training sessions and conversations with staff and will continue to further those opportunities in Banbridge & Armagh City as the new Council area develops and comes together.
If you would like to know more about CSE, please do visit the Safer to Know website. If you would like some training on the issue, or would like someone to speak to young people about issues of grooming and healthy relationships – please visit our contact page so we can help!
If you are concerned about Child Sexual Exploitation ring the Police on 101 or if there is immediate danger 999. You can also ring Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
Alternatively, the NSPCC has a 24/7 line purposely for adults and young people to express concerns they may have in relation to child sexual exploitation (CSE) and it can be reached on 0800 389 1701
We are well into 2015 now and we’ve loved being able to look back over the past few months to reflect on how many young people we’ve been able to reach and engage with our programmes.
From June 2014 we’ve reached a massive 1481 young people, 667 of which we met in youth clubs or youth provisions!
From human trafficking to CSE (Child Sexual Exploitation) to online protection, we’ve covered a wide range of topics that all revolve around the issue of exploitation.
We want to give a massive shout out and thank you to some of the wonderful young people we have worked with from organisations such as:
Dreamscheme, St Marys Youth club, Youth Initiatives, YPP, The Girls Brigade, Laurencetown Community Centre, Craigavon PCSP (YEP Project), Clan Eirrean, Arboe Youth Forum and Dromore High Youth Club (to name just a few)!
Earlier this year we had a wonderful opportunity to partner with our local VOYPIC (Voice of Young People in Care) team to run a session for young people and their carers. VOYPIC are an amazing organisation with an inspiring vision. It’s their ethos that all children and young people who are cared for away from home will have;
A voice at the heart of all decision making;
A meaningful say in their lives;
Their rights fully respected;
The opportunity to realise their full potential in whatever they choose to do
So of course we would want to partner with them and bring our message of online safety to prevent exploitation!
We welcomed 12 young people and 10 foster carers/support staff to our CIP offices on the 11th Feb to highlight the issue of online safety. The Internet is an awesome tool, where would we be if we couldn’t just Google our every question or query?
We are big fans of the Internet and use social media a lot to champion our cause and create awareness. We do recognise though, that young people can be susceptible to all sorts of abuse online and we know of young people who have been groomed into what appeared to be a loving relationship that eventually left them feeling vulnerable and exploited, so we have a duty of care to educate not only young people, but also parents and carers, so that together we can help prevent exploitation.
So in partnership with VOYPIC we delivered 2 sessions simultaneously (one with young people, one with their carers/staff) and had some great conversations – we even managed to facilitate some contracts between young people and their care placements about internet useage, believing that both sides deserve to be respected and trusted when it comes to this issue! We trust that every attendee left feeling a little more aware and a little more equipped to recognise the signs of online exploitation.
It’s been a while since we have given an update on our work in Schools, mainly because we have been doing so much of it! So, let’s go back a bit and we’ll fill you in on all we’ve been up to as we work alongside some incredible students and teachers.
To mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day, on 18 October, we delivered a 3-day interactive, multi-sensory exhibition in partnership with Banbridge Policing & Community Safety Partnership. We set up shop in Banbridge’s ENP centre and welcomed classes from local schools, plus members of the public, to browse our information stands, chat to our volunteers and drink some kindly donated Starbucks Fair trade coffee. We also launched our latest video ‘Everyday Activism’ to inspire people that we can all be activists against human trafficking in our everyday lives – making the right choices and speaking out – every small act joins together and makes a big impact. We were invited to facilitate a multi-school workshop hosted by Omagh High School, to raise awareness about human trafficking. Over 150 students, from six local schools, came together to learn about how to spot the signs of trafficking, to discuss what exploitation can look like in the products that we buy, and to consider our responsibility as consumers. The students signed petition cards calling for chocolate companies to stop using child slaves in their cocoa production, in countries like the Ivory Coast. In February, we took our ‘Everyday Activism’ exhibition on tour to Dromore High and New-Bridge Integrated to mark Fair Trade Fortnight. The highlight of our workshop was an original performance by the Theatre & Education students of the Southern Regional College – Armagh Campus, who wrote and performed a drama exploring what exploitation and modern day slavery looks like in NI. We also launched a social media poster competition to encourage the students to raise awareness of human trafficking! As well as performing their dynamic play for our workshop, we worked along the SRC Theatre in Education students to put on an ‘Afternoon of Activism’ in Armagh. They performed for 70 of their fellow SRC students and then marched through The Mall, in the centre of the city to make a really big noise about human trafficking. We collected signatures from the public to urge CEO’s of the main supermarket chains to order more Fair trade and certified Easter eggs for 2016 and encouraged them to come in and look around the UN GIFT Box that the students had booked and assembled for added attention. We were also really excited to accompany and support a group of young activists from Lurgan Junior High as they interviewed Minister Ford about human trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation at Stormont. We are so proud of their enthusiasm! Young people and students are the present and the future change-makers of this issue and we love being able to use education as a way of developing a sense of activism in them. If you would like to have our team run workshops, assemblies or lessons – please get in touch!
We are just about recovered from 3 amazing, intense days hosting our ‘Everyday Activism’ exhibition in Banbridge. Were you there?!
The project was funding by the Dept. of Justice Assets Recovery Community Scheme and was coordinated in partnership with Banbridge Policing & Community Safety Partnership. We delivered the event on the lead up to EU Anti-Trafficking Day on October 18th.
We loved every minute of the 3 days! Our team of committed and enthusiastic, hardworking volunteers and staff transformed a shop unit in the middle of the town (usually a local youth centre) into a multi-sensory information hub on human trafficking and exploitation. We invited local Schools to come along for different time slots in the mornings and left the afternoons open for the public to come in for a look around. We had such a great time talking to everyone about what human trafficking looks like around the world, in the products we buy and in our own communities.
The highlight of the week for us was seeing people get informed and turn that knowledge immediately into action by signing petition postcards and writing down their ‘freedom acts’ and holding their commitments up in our polaroid photo booth!
Huge thank you’s go out to Starbucks for providing us with free coffee, to ENP Banbridge for giving us their shop unit as a venue, the teachers and schools that came along and to the volunteers that gave their time to chat, serve and explain human trafficking to those who came through the doors.
To mark EU Anti-Trafficking Day we also launched our latest video, ‘Everyday Activism’ to inspire people that we can all be activists against human trafficking in our everyday lives – making the right choices and speaking out – every small act joins together and makes a big impact.
Have a watch below – what will be your freedom act?