Freedom Walk shines light on trafficking and modern slavery
published on 22 Aug 2022
The Salvation Army is raising awareness of modern slavery by running unique guided tours at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
The church and charity is an official venue - No.405 - at this year’s festival and has been hosting a series of events and shows on social justice issues.
One of those events is the Freedom Walk - a free, family-friendly guided tour of Edinburgh’s old town that explores the city’s dark history and how slavery is not just a thing of the past.
The walk is the idea of Major Alison Raybould, The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Coordinator for Scotland. She hopes it will help raise awareness of survivors of human trafficking as well as giving people an insight into famous city landmarks such as Fleshmarket Close and the World’s End pub.
Alison said: “When people think of slavery they usual think of it in a historical sense. But it’s just as much of an issue today, if not more, to the point that the number of victims in Scotland is double what it was five years ago.
“Trafficking and modern slavery can involve victims being sexually exploited or forced into the role of a servant, or trapped in forced labour, with nail bars, car washes and construction amongst the industries where potential cases in Scotland have been reported.
“I had one lady on the tour, a teacher from England, and we talked about how easy it is for kids to fall into the county lines trap where they are manipulated into selling drugs. She was going to go back to her school in Essex and ask them why they don’t do county lines training. That’s the kind of impact I had hoped the Freedom Walk would have.”
In England in Wales, The Salvation Army works with the Home Office to provide specialist support for all adult victims of modern slavery. In Scotland, support is provided by a range of agencies working alongside the Scottish Government.
Alison’s role involves working with these groups to raise awareness of human trafficking by enabling people to spot the signs that someone is a victim.
She said: “In my role I spend a lot of time with youth groups and different organisations that work with survivors of human trafficking who have given me some of the stories. It’s an ongoing resource but we feel it makes a difference. Young people nowadays are so engaged and in touch with social issues.”
Explaining the eye-catching outfit she wears during the tours, which includes a Scot family tartan shawl and a cap with the words “tumbling lassie”, Alison said it was a tribute to a court case from 1687 that had a massive impact on slavery in Scotland. A girl was “bought” from her mother and used by a travelling showman as a performing gymnast until she fled and was given refuge by a Borders couple called the Scots of Harden. The showman went to court and demanded damages but the judges dismissed his claim, and the official report of the case stated: “We have no slaves in Scotland, and mothers cannot sell their bairns.”
The Freedom Walks run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday August 22, 23, 25 and 26 - and each tour is limited to ten spaces. Tickets can be obtained from the Fringe website or you can take a chance and just turn up. The walk leaves The Salvation Army’s building on East Adam Street at 11am and 2pm on the days above.