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).
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.