Poppy Project loses funding

Eaves, a London-based charity that offer a variety of services to women, and who have also run the Poppy Project since 2003, have lost the funding, which has been granted to the Salvation Army to run the services.

The Poppy Project is specifically to help the victims of trafficking with short-term housing and counselling services. Primarily the victims of trafficking are women and children.

The Government, in their infinite wisdom, have granted the funding to the Salvation Army to now run these services (at a lower cost I believe, it appears that funding levels were cut).

Sex trafficking charity loses out to Salvation Army over £6m contract

Eaves Housing accuses ministers of ‘ideological decision’ that ‘will reduce funding by 60% per victim’

A charity that pioneered specialist services for victims of sexual trafficking, providing refuge and therapeutic support for hundreds of abused and exploited women, faces an uncertain future after ministers withdrew its funding.

Eaves Housing has accused ministers of taking an “ideological decision” after they awarded a £6m contract to run the Poppy Project services it has developed and provided over the past eight years to the Salvation Army.

It said the decision marked a change in the way government supports care for victims of trafficking: “They were after a bare minimum service, not a specialist service.”

The move came as it was announced that a woman who was a repeated victim of sex trafficking is to be paid substantial damages by the Home Office after it returned her to Moldova, despite the fact that she faced grave dangers there.

The ‘”groundbreaking settlement was reached on the eve of a high court hearing for her claim against the Home Office for failing to take steps to protect her and for sending her back to Moldova despite substantial grounds to believe she was at risk from her traffickers. The woman was identified as a victim of sex trafficking by the Poppy Project after years of ill treatment.

Abigail Stepnitz, national co-ordinator for the Poppy Project for Eaves Housing, said that, according to their calculations, the new contract would reduce funding by 60% per victim. This meant it would be impossible to offer anything more than a limited service to victims, many of whom need intensive psychological support, she said.

“We are concerned for the women in our care. We really do not know how we are going to be able to offer appropriate care for these women.”

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said Eaves Housing “had done a very good job” in recent years, but the Salvation Army had put in a stronger bid for the contract, which has been widened to provide support for trafficked men as well as women.

“Eaves are upset and it’s not great for them, but it’s much better for victims of trafficking,” said the spokesperson.

The MoJ said the Salvation Army – which will “gatekeep” the contract, handing out subcontracts to a range of partner organisations – would be able to offer a wider geographical spread of services.

The Salvation Army, which states that one of its main charitable aims is “to reach people with the Christian gospel through evangelism”, said its religious underpinning was not a factor. “We are a faith-based organisation and we are motivated by our faith, but it’s really important that we provide holistic care for all those who come under the auspices of our care.”

Eaves had pitched for the contract, worth £2m a year over three years, with a number of other organisations, including the Helen Bamber Foundation, which works with victims of torture.

Denise Marshall, the chief executive of Eaves, sent back her MBE earlier this year in protest at government cuts to services, which she says will leave charities unable to provide adequate services for vulnerable women.

The Home Office will pay “substantial damages” to the Moldovan woman, who cannot be named because she and her family are still at risk of retribution from her traffickers. She was kidnapped at the age of 14 and then continually trafficked and re-trafficked for forced prostitution in Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Israel and Britain until she was 21.

She was arrested by police and immigration officers in a brothel in London in 2003, who charged her with possessing false documents, which had been provided by her traffickers.

She was imprisoned for three months before being sent back to Moldova through a fast-track immigration process. Her trafficker was neither investigated nor arrested but was allowed to visit her in Holloway prison and Oakington detention centre, where he posed as her boyfriend, in order to intimidate her.

The woman was found by her trafficker when she returned to Moldova and was forced back into prostitution.

In 2007 she was arrested again in Britain and held at Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre, but was eventually referred to the Poppy Project. She has since been granted refugee status.

Mrs Justice Cox, who approved the confidential settlement, said the woman had been the repeated victim of sex trafficking over a long period of time, during which she had suffered severe sexual degradation resulting in psychiatric injury.

She remained at significant risk of serious harm because the police had not been able to catch her traffickers.

Poppy Project supports women who have been trafficked from places including Eastern Europe, Africa and Thailand to work in prostitution, and provides them with a range of intensive support services, including a safe house, a subsistence allowance, clothing, health checks, counselling and English lessons. It also provides outreach advice services to women who do not qualify for refuge care.

Studies have shown that trafficked women have frequently been subjected to physical and sexual assault, forced into sex acts, and kept in captivity by traffickers.

Research carried out in 2006 by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that over half the trafficked women they interviewed within two weeks of arrival at a support project had experienced physical symptoms such as weight loss, and gynaelogical infections, while over 70% reported problems with longer term mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal feelings.

The Poppy Project was held up as an exemplary project in a study by the analysts New Philanthropy Capital in a 2008 report. It said: “Many of the experts that NPC consulted felt it was important that trafficked women be given support from specialist, women-only organisations with a track record in working with victims of extreme sexual violence and therefore have a deep understanding of what women need.”

Apart from the bargain price that the SA has agreed to run the service for, one clue also appears in the above:
but the Salvation Army had put in a stronger bid for the contract, which has been widened to provide support for trafficked men as well as women.

Yes, the service must include MEN (who would be teen boys, and would still only make up a tiny percentage of sex trafficked victims). This is the exact pressure that all the women-only charities and services have been facing to get funding over the last few years, they have to provide services for MEN, in areas of support where they are the minority of victims. This includes domestic violence and rape crisis services. These women-only services were started 30-40 years ago by second wave feminists because the government were not doing jackshit for support of these victims. These organisations have been struggling for years on minimal funding, which has had dramatic cuts, the worst of which happening this financial year, although funding has been extremely tight for quite a number of years. See this interview with Denise Marshall, chief executive of Eaves. And my previous post about the cuts.

Where are all the MRA groups supporting male victims, setting up their own organisations? No, women’s groups have to accomodate bloody male victims in order to beg for funding. Most of these women’s groups rely heavily too on volunteers.

I will probably update this post as more info comes to hand. Thanks to Julie Bindel for the initial alert, and Cath Elliott for some of the links.

25 thoughts on “Poppy Project loses funding

  1. FAB Libber

    There was some info that a commenter left on Julie’s post, but I don’t know if it is allowed out in the public domain or not.

    Let’s just say that the Salvation Army are thrusting their Gawd agenda on the unfortunate people that come under their care.


  2. Jennifer

    How many adult men are sold into sexual slavery? Answer is almost zero. How many women and girls are sold into sexual slavery? Answer: it is impossible to provide a number because the issue of female sexual slavery is a global one. But of course Poppy Project being a service specifically designed to provide professional support, medical care and counselling to female survivors of the sex slavery trade is supposedly discriminatory. This is despite widespread recognition that women survivors of prostitution and male sexual violence need specific women-only services. The MRAS must be crowing in delight at having succeeded in eliminating another feminist organisation which has consistently denounced ‘sex trafficking’ as male violence against women.

    So our male dominated government enforces its male domination over women by removing funding to the Poppy Project. We mustn’t have specific services for women survivors of prostitution must we? No instead let’s continue claiming ‘but men are victims too and men are sexually enslaved too.’

    So instead the Salvation Army will take on the task of evangelising women and girl survivors of men’s profitable trade in selling females to men.

    This is the reality of a male-dominated right-wing government which is determined to eliminate the tiny, tiny rights women have fought for decades and instead once again male supremacy will rule uncontested.


  3. FAB Libber

    The MRAS must be crowing in delight at having succeeded in eliminating another feminist organisation

    This I think, is the key to it, yet another feminist-created woman-only service is ‘bid’ out of existance.

    And of course the SA with their ‘people’ focus (not woman focus) will not provide the adequate support for these women, but will patch them up so they quickly become revictimised by prostitution – with the ultimate smack-down that they are “fallen women” and it was their fault for ‘falling’ back into prostitution.

    The ONLY grounds I think that we can contest this re-contract is on the grounds that a specifically religious (read xtian) organisation is impinging on “freedom of faith” of the people under their care (a lot would be from non-xtian countries). Lets just say I heard a rumour about 5am praying sessions, you can bet it is under xtian terms and not fully non-denominational, even if the SA propagandise otherwise. Yeah, take a traumatised victim, chuck them out of bed at 5am and make them ‘pray’ for salvation. About as helpful as putting a gun to their head.


  4. Sargasso Sea

    Salvation Army can kiss my ass too.

    (5 am prayers? since when did SA start batting for team islam?! :P)


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  6. FAB Libber

    Well, Team Islam like to work with sunrise/sunset, and a few other bits inbetween for good measure (Allah must be well strict I guess). I won’t be getting my multi-virgin reward in the afterlife. Not that I was ever in the running, being an XX anyway. Gosh darn, I won’t even BE the reward.

    The SA with their 5am BS, remind me of that xtian penance type stuff. And frankly, that’s all a bit on the bdsm side for me. Self-flagellation and all that crap.

    And yes, I am an equal opportunity, ‘worshipping religion’ hater. Anything with a (solo) male deity gets an auto-fail.


  7. noanodyne

    Does anybody think it’s telling to put an organization that is out and proud about it’s rejection of gays and lesbians in charge of something that helps boys escape sex trafficking????????????????


  8. FAB Libber

    I gather that the small handful of boy trafficked victims will be absolved of ‘their sins’ and put on the ‘correct path’ of PIVing females. The female trafficked victims will need to atone for ‘their’ sins, and be patched up just enough to be sent out to be revictimised. Be damned if they are lesbian, they will need ‘curing’.

    That seems to be the way of religious nutter orgs.


  9. parallelexistence

    This is bad news. There will be very little protest, not only because it’s about women in a general sense, but because the lefty-dude-fun-fem alliance quite specifically hate organisations like Eaves who are willing to state that women are human.

    Look at the comments and previous discussions about traffiked women on cif/newinternationalist and other “liberal” sites. It’s one long stream of whining about how the Poppy Project is driven by “feminist ideology” and what a terrible terrible thing that is. How dare anyone suggest that women are anything other than w*nk rags to be freely passed around to serve the male demand for a hole ? How dare anyone suggest that this is not an empowerful life for the women involved ?

    And as ever the most vunerable will suffer.


  10. FAB Libber

    Hi PE, welcome.

    Yes, I think this has been the biggest danger, that funfems and leftydudes AND tranz have all been working against FAB-only services, due to “feminist ideology” (like that is some kind of bad thing!).

    I just wonder how the funfems and leftydudes now take it when it has become obvious that these services have now ended up in ‘establishment’ hands, particularly in the hands of religious groups?

    PE – are you one of the refugees from IBTRF?
    I know your handle from somewhere, but never bothered with the comments at IBTRF for the last few years.


  11. parallelexistence

    Hello FabLibber. Not a refuge as such, though I did used to comment on IBTP, but usually as “parallel” (unless I’m logged into wordpress then I get my whole title).

    Also used to comment at Cath’s, Polly’s, Heart’s, Reclusive Leftist, Thusspakezuska sometimes, and others, possibly FCM or Femonade as well – I’ve lost track TBH. Mostly I ran out of energy for watching threads being taken over by men, or just going over the same old stuff.

    I blog at my own place now and then to let off steam, and only occasionally comment now – but it is good to see some radfem blogs coming back. There used to be a whole group of Brit bloggers who seem to have disappeared. But I find it too energy-sucking to really keep up as I used to.


  12. FAB Libber

    There used to be a whole group of Brit bloggers who seem to have disappeared. But I find it too energy-sucking to really keep up as I used to.

    Sometimes I think we just need to take a break from it, probably due to the frustration that the only changes are for the worst, and funfems are completely oblivious to all of this (too busy with their pole dancing sexercises I guess).

    We have a resurgence now, maybe because some are rested and ready again, or maybe the Dark Forces are just getting too obvious that we cannot stand by and let women’s herstory and gains be plunged back to the dark ages again.

    Most of us are realistic enough to realise that the situation for females is not going to be fixed within our lifetimes, but, nevertheless, we should battle on and do our part or what we can. We are a resistance movement, so stealth operations are usually the norm, with a bit of visibility here and there.

    Put you on my ‘bog’roll 😛


  13. FAB Libber

    Another has blogged on the Poppy Project:
    This is not exactly the first announcement from the Government which leaves women significantly worse off. Almost unbelievably, The Guardian quotes a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice as saying that part of the reason for awarding the contract to the Sally Army was because they were offering to broaden the service to include male victims of trafficking. There undoubtedly are male victims of trafficking — mainly forced or indentured labour — and they get very little attention, but that is not a reason to divert and dilute the funding that was previously provided for female victims of sexual trafficking and exploitation, award it to Christian missionaries and thereby destroy the skill base built up by the Poppy Project over the last few years.

    I have no doubt that trafficking victims will suffer as a consequence.


  14. FAB Libber

    Follow up in the Guardian (thanks to ParallelExistence for the link via Cath’s blog)

    Sex-trafficked women’s charity Poppy Project in danger as funding withdrawn

    The Poppy Project needs £450,000 of charity aid to survive. Without it, countless victims of abuse will be left to cope alone

    Mansa, a 33-year-old Ghanaian woman who days ago was close to being deported, has no doubt that the Poppy Project saved her life. “I was ready to kill myself if I had gone,” she said. “I didn’t know what else I would do.”

    Hundreds of other victims of sex trafficking in Britain may not be so lucky. Shortly after midday last Monday, an email confirmed that ministers were withdrawing funding from the charity, which pioneered specialist services for victims of sex trafficking, and is the biggest and most established organisation of its kind.

    The government decision immediately prompted a campaign by luminaries such as Professor Liz Kelly, the chair of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, and urgent appeals for donations to help the project continue supporting victims of trafficking.

    The withdrawal of funding means that the charity requires £450,000 in donations by the end of June to continue. The impact of the funding cut on trafficking victims – an issue that David Cameron says is a “key priority” – is potentially catastrophic, according to the organisation’s case workers. Abigail Stepnitz, the national co-ordinator for the Poppy Project Eaves charity, said that the decision was “politically motivated”.

    “The government doesn’t like someone who will rock the boat. We were a problem for them in that sense,” she said. Since the charity joined an oversight board two years ago, assessing the government’s compliance on tackling trafficking, it has successfully appealed 17 UK Border Agency decisions on identification of trafficking victims and forced countless reassessments.

    Last week’s decision has also crystallised concerns that the coalition government does not regard sex trafficking as a priority – regardless of Cameron’s pledges. Stepnitz points to letters from officials, which concede that, while the rape experienced by victims is “unfortunate”, it does not qualify them for government help.

    Her all-female team of 16 support workers provides around-the-clock support and accommodation for those women who are trafficked to Britain and forced into prostitution or servitude. More than 700 have received help since the organisation was founded in 2003.

    The organisation’s virtues were underlined by the rescue of Mansa, days before news of the funding decision. In 2003, the Ghanaian had been taken from Heathrow airport to a rural house where she was held and “tortured and sexually abused” over four years.

    Faced with her deportation, the Poppy Project argued that, after eight years in the UK and with an abusive family in Ghana, she would be better to receive continuing support at its Sheffield office. On the morning of her scheduled deportation flight from London on 1 April, Poppy staff acted to keep Mansa in the country. They contacted the pilots’ union, explaining the situation. Leaflets were printed and distributed to passengers at Heathrow, and every legal avenue explored. Stepnitz made an application to the European Court of Human Rights. It paid off. Less than four hours before the flight’s departure, the government backed down.

    “Poppy saved me. They helped me emotionally, mentally and support every bit of my life. But without the funding it’s going to be very tough. A woman who has been tortured, raped and beaten needs a lot of support to get better,” she said.

    Another of Poppy’s success stories, Maria, 24, was trafficked from the Balkans to London by a neighbour when she was a child. Despite claiming asylum almost a decade ago, the government had never responded, leaving her unable to work legitimately and forcing her back into prostitution to survive.

    At the start of 2011, a friend told Maria that help was available. “Before the Poppy Project, I had never felt like a human being, I was never treated as a human, I was always treated like a dog,” she said. “For seven years I didn’t live something I could call life. Now I feel free and happy, Poppy has given me power I never had. Now I want David Cameron to come here and talk to us, hear how we feel.”

    But the damage may have already been done. The £4m contract for services that the charity developed went instead to the Salvation Army, a decision that the government said was “much better for victims of trafficking”.

    One element of the decision that had troubled support workers was the assumption that most victims would require only 45 days of treatment. Stepnitz said that at least 90 days was required to rehabilitate victims. The average length of treatment at the charity, which can support 128 women, is between three and eight months.

    Within the charity’s south London headquarters are the tools of rehabilitation. Trafficked women learn English, how to write CVs, computer skills and how to eat healthily. Between shifts manning the emergency referral and advice hotline, Leigh Ivens and her colleagues escort women to see doctors, meet Home Office officials and solicitors. They may eventually escort them to court to testify against their trafficker. The charity has secured more than 500 years in convictions against traffickers.

    “But really it is about getting women to the stage where they have their freedom back,” said Ivens, who this week will adopt another role – campaigning to raise the £1.8m a year required to help women like Maria and Mansa.

    Donations to the Poppy Project can be made via Eaves’ website


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  16. Sargasso Sea

    Can a woman of Welsh extraction but a citizen of the US sign the petition in an *honorary* fashion…

    (I want to sign!)


  17. FAB Libber

    You possibly can. I have to remember the various logins that I have for several petition sites (so I have not signed yet, but will later).

    If it does ask you for a UK postcode for UK verification, then go to google map, pick a street and town, then look up the postcode:

    Normally you just need a functioning email address, for confirmation before the ‘signature’ is accepted.



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