Offering a lifeline to UK slavery victim’s family in Philippines
published on 10 Sep 2020
The Salvation Army has reached across the world to help a family in the Philippines after a survivor of modern slavery being supported by the UK charity, became concerned for her elderly parents’ wellbeing during the coronavirus restrictions in her home country.
The woman, who cannot be named for her protection, is rebuilding her life with the help of The Salvation Army in the UK and its partners. She became frightened that the pandemic would leave her elderly parents destitute. They are too frail to farm, local shops are shut and the lockdown meant family members living far away were unable to visit to help them.
The Salvation Army has a global network and Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery projects in countries where people are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by human traffickers. The UK territory was able to reach out to colleagues in the Philippines who in turn checked up on the family and delivered food.
Local Programme Coordinator, Melpo Economou, who helped arrange the support explained: “I made the call and was genuinely amazed at the speed at which The Salvation Army’s global networks were able to be mobilised.
“Within a week, I received an email and photos from local Salvation Army officers in the Philippines reporting that they had visited the family to check on them and provide them with supplies of rice, canned goods, noodles and milk. The email also brought a message of reassurance that my client’s parents were doing well and that The Salvation Army officers would be available to provide help in the future if needed.
When Melpo explained what had happened, she received this reaction from her client: “I am really happy to have this experience in this country. I never expected this in my life. I have a lot of lovely people in my life here who give me support. Thank you.”
Melpo continued: “It was so powerful and touching for me to realise that something like this is possible. This news has made such a huge difference to my client’s emotional wellbeing.”
Despite the coronavirus restrictions, The Salvation Army is continuing to support survivors of slavery as they become more self-sufficient, through a network of safe houses and outreach support and is continuing to work with police forces as they carry out raids to catch the perpetrators of this horrific crime and rescue victims.
Melpo’s client is being supported through The Salvation Army’s CONNECT programme, which it developed to complement the specialist support available to slavery survivors through a Government contract it manages. Among other support, the contract provides survivors with a safe place to stay, access to counselling, financial, medical and legal assistance as they begin their journey of recovery. The Salvation Army’s national CONNECT Programme offers practical and holistic help along this journey through a weekly drop-in, a mentoring scheme and social activities to help survivors integrate into their local community and benefit from the support available where they live.
Melpo, who oversees the West Midlands CONNECT programme, and her team of trained volunteers, have moved their support service to telephone to minimise the risk of infection to their clients during the coronavirus pandemic.