OUR STORY

The roots of Freedom Acts were established in 2011 as a local voluntary group emerged in under the banner of Stop The Traffik. Led by Mel Wiggins and Laura Wylie, the Craigavon Stop The Traffik group took part in delivering human trafficking public awareness campaigns across the wider Craigavon area.

As the interest in the issue grew, Mel and Laura worked with local Co. Armagh charity Community Intercultural Programme to develop the work further and secure funding for a more intensive project. Freedom Acts was born in 2012 as a programme of CIP.


Community Intercultural Programme is committed to assisting people from different community and cultural backgrounds by offering a range of support services. The unique programmes and projects aim to give new communities the information, tools and social connection necessary to settle in, develop and thrive here in Northern Ireland.

CIP help develop and advocate for women, families, young people and those vulnerable to exploitation.


From 2012, Freedom Acts has focused on delivering awareness and training to many voluntary and statutory groups, engaging over 8000 people directly through school lessons, seminars, workshops and presentations.

 

In 2013/14 Freedom Acts created several resources for teachers (in partnership with the Department of Justice NI) and youth workers to educate young people in issues of trafficking, activism, fair-trade, grooming, online safety and healthy relationships.

As well as sitting on the Department of Justice NGO Engagement Group on Trafficking, Freedom Acts also coordinates a local Human Trafficking & Exploitation Steering Group in the ABC Area.

The work of Freedom Acts has been recognized locally and regionally with awards for Community Safety and Justice in the Community.
Freedom Acts is now focused on working preventatively to stop exploitation through our 5 priority areas.

 

 

MEET THE TEAM

 
 
mel.jpg

Mel Wiggins MBE
//Project Coordinator

Mel has been the Project Coordinator of Freedom Acts for the past 5 years. She is an activist, a writer, a leader, and a visionary. Mel is married and is a mum to two young kids. Mel has been involved in the charity sector for 15 years in both England and Northern Ireland working with organisations such as The Salvation Army, The Princes Trust, Stop The Traffik, and YMCA.

Mel leads the Freedom Acts team and inspires a creative, strategic approach to the disruption of human trafficking in a local context. In 2017 Mel received an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen for her work in tackling human trafficking. She is dedicated to keeping the work of Freedom Acts relevant, preventative and sustainable.

anita.jpg

Anita Firth
//Development Officer

Anita has worked with Freedom Acts since 2013 as Education Officer and more recently as Development Officer. Anita is married and is a mum of two young daughters.

With a background in youth and community work, Anita is relational and naturally connects with people. After graduating from the University of Ulster, Anita travelled to South America and Asia where she worked with vulnerable communities tackling various social justice issues.

Anita believes in the value of connection, and is motivated by the importance of people knowing and understanding their rights. She seeks to create the pathways needed for those who are vulnerable of becoming isolated and exploited.

 

stephen.jpg

Ian Spiers
//Education Officer

Ian has been the Education Officer for Freedom Acts since 2015. He is a retired public sector trainer joining the Freedom Acts’ team because of his passion for the issue. Ian is married with two grown up kids and two little grandkids.

Ian is a strong facilitator and has been working in the education field for over 25 years, working for various public and private sector groups.  Ian delivers the message of Freedom Acts to varied groups and organisations in the ABC council area and beyond. He is committed to informing key stakeholders, community members and those most at-risk about the signs and indictors of exploitation and how to stay safe.