.

Group highlighting plight of Cheshire's hidden victims of trafficking and modern slavery

A Cheshire group are raising awareness of modern slavery, as part of their campaign to tackle the problem.

Nantwich & District Soroptimists, part of a worldwide organisation to improve the lives of women, have been working for several years to reduce and eliminate trafficking.

They say that when they first started raising awareness of modern slavery and sex trafficking six years ago, Cheshire Police told them it was not a big problem.

Since then, an Anti-Slavery Network has been formed in Cheshire - of which the force is a key member - to rescue an increasing number of victims.

The Soroptimist group say that many people in the county do not realise that modern slavery is taking place on their doorstep - and sometimes the victims themselves do not realise they are being exploited.

Marian Wade, Development Officer at Nantwich and District Soroptimists, said: "They get given money to come to a job in the UK, which they are then told they owe back.

"They are given very low standard accommodation, which they are told they have to pay a lot for.

"The traffickers take a lot of the money that they actually earn, and they might be earning the minimum wage but not getting it.

"Because it is more than they have been used to they think that it is ok."

The Salvation Army help move those who have been trafficked to safety, and Marian says that their staff have told them the people they help rescue have been left with no sense of worth.

She said: "One gentleman had no socks, and he didn't think he could ask them to buy him socks.

"They got to a motorway service station and they tried to give him food, and he didn't think he deserved to be given food.

"I think when somebody has arrived at that point, you realise just how much help they need."

On Saturday (14 October), the Soroptimists are holding a Purple Teardrop Event outside St Mary’s Church in Nantwich town centre - ahead of Anti-Slavery Day next week.

The teardrops, which represent the suffering of those who are exploited, will be used to decorate trees in the area.

They will also be given to members of the public to display to show solidarity with the enslaved. They are then being asked to share photos of the teardrops on social media, to raise awareness.

A tombola will feature prizes wrapped in purple paper, to represent the hidden nature of the issue, and the fact that people trafficked to the UK do not know what they are getting.

All donations and profits will go to the Salvation Army.

 

More from Local