Wintry BBQs and marshmallow snowmen: a safe house Christmas
published on 14 Dec 2021
Every day of the year The Salvation Army supports thousands of survivors of modern slavery as they rebuild their lives. Christmas is no exception to this when staff give residents opportunities to celebrate in ways which are sensitive and inclusive to their own cultures and faiths.
Most of the women and men in our network of safe houses, and many of those receiving outreach support, are separated from their family and friends.
To help survivors come together to feel part of a wider family, residents in a safe house in the North East make reindeer Christmas tree decorations bearing their name. These are placed on the tree with decorations made by everyone who has ever lived in and received support at the safe house.
Each Christmas, as they decorate the tree, staff and residents take a moment to remember each person and reflect on their time at the safe house and their journey to recovery.
Elsewhere pre-Christmas schedules include making decorations, yule logs and marshmallow snowmen as well as Christmas movie afternoons, lunches and parties. Last year, in a safe house in the East Midlands, men from Poland, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Hungary, Brazil and Jamaica braved the wintry weather with a Christmas BBQ and party around the fire pit, sharing food and traditions from their own home countries and cultures.
We recognise how hard life can be for people recovering from exploitation, particularly at Christmas. We do our best to make our safe houses a survivor’s home, not just a place where we can help them access counselling, financial, legal and medical support, employability skills and education.
Group activities can be helpful addition and support recovery. Survivors of modern slavery who currently don’t have a right to work while they are waiting for decisions to be made on asylum claims find them particularly beneficial.
The Salvation Army’s Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Kathy Betteridge said:
“We work very hard to make sure that Christmas is inclusive to the different nationalities, genders and faiths represented by residents in a safe house or outreach support. In the run up to Christmas, you’ll find our support staff busy preparing festive activities such as cookery and arts and crafts.
“There will also be gifts for all survivors, with special efforts made to ensure children whose parents are receiving support from The Salvation Army and its partners will wake up with something to open on Christmas Day.”