Commonwealth Games: Two Salvationists volunteer on the UN Gift Boxes to raise awareness of human trafficking

published on 31 Jul 2014

Two Salvationists are helping raise awareness of human trafficking today by taking part in a campaign during the Commonwealth Games.  

Major Kathy Betteridge (Mission Outreach and Support Officer for Edinburgh) and Major Helen Young (church leader in Dennistoun) are among a team of Christian volunteers on the UN Gift Boxes in Glasgow city centre.  

The large, walk-in boxes are intended to symbolise trafficking, with each one providing information and first-hand accounts and pictures from victims inside.  

There are four gift boxes, with one outside Glasgow Cathedral and three on Sauchiehall Street. Each one highlights a specific aspect of human trafficking – forced labour, domestic servitude, forced street crime and begging, and sexual exploitation.  

Kathy, who also sits on the anti-human trafficking cross-party group at the Scottish Parliament, says the campaign has already got over 10,000 signatures for a petition to address trafficking within business and supply chains.  

She said: “The boxes look attractive from the outside. They will be beautifully coloured and gift-wrapped, which symbolises the false offer of something lovely for people who are trafficked. When people step inside the boxes they realise they’re suddenly in a situation where they’re trapped. This happens with men, women and children.  

“My role as volunteer is to give information to people and to highlight that this is happening under our noses."  

Kathy also works with The Salvation Army’s street projects, helping prostitutes in Edinburgh and says a high percentage of them have been victims of trafficking.  

She said:  “Drugs are sold once, while the human body can be sold again and again and that’s what happens to the younger girls. They can be resold thousands of times for a lot of money. “Men and women are also forced on to the streets to beg for money and if they don’t meet their quota they’re in fear of being tortured, being abused, in fear for their lives. You can pick out the beggars who are victims as they are just so scared they often refuse help."