Fostering action and support to trafficked persons
Trafficking in human beings represents the third largest crime industry in the world. Over half of its survivors come from third countries, and 46% are subjected to sexual exploitation. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerability of survivors of this practice further and made identifying them difficult as recruiting and exploitation has shifted to online platforms. In response, the Italian Red Cross, the Netherlands Red Cross, the British Red Cross, CNOS FAP, the International Rescue Committee, and the Greek Council for Refugees joined forcess in the FAST project (Foster Action and Support to Trafficked Persons). The project, funded by the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), follows three main activities.
First, project partners strengthen identification capacities of survivors among new arrivals and long-term migrants through training practitioners. Second, they provide legal support and refer the most at-risk survivors to specialised services. And third, they support survivors of trafficking through trainings in soft skills and ad hoc individual projects for social inclusion. Thus, FAST reflects the victim-centred approach promoted by European National Red Cross Societies, aiming at accompanying trafficking survivors through all the steps from healing to integration and inclusion in their new societies.
Support to trafficking survivors and potential victims is enhanced through remote learning sessions which target practitioners. At the end of the project, FAST aims to have trained around 500 professionals on how to pre-identify potential survivors, refer them to specialized services, and provide them with psychosocial and legal support. This form of internal capacity building is a core goal of the project and aims to give new tools to volunteers, practitioners and professionals working to prevent trafficking in human beings.
The content of the learning sessions varies depending on the national context and includes methodologies on how to analyse indicators of trafficking in human beings, conduct an interview and establish a referral mechanism, providing legal volunteers with knowledge and skills in psychological first aid and legal case management. To effectively support presumed and identified survivors of trafficking, an integrated approach is being implemented, prioritising their needs, early identification, legal support, and access to specialized services, as well as initiatives to include migrant women into the labour market.
FAST also offers empowerment and well-being workshops aimed at strengthening assistance to presumed survivors of trafficking. These so-called "Life Skills Workshops" provide them with an opportunity to build on their already established skills as well as to develop new tools to take care of their health and well-being, and to achieve personal goals. Through a soft skills course comprising 4 to 6 sessions of 2 hours each, migrants enhance their self-confidence in dealing with stress, isolation, and frustration on their migration path. The workshops address various topics such as stress management, healthy habits, and effective communication techniques. One session is dedicated to helping survivors identify and discover their talents, adapt to the new context they find themselves in, and look to the future with a new perspective. Beyond the workshops, playgrounds were set up to entertain the participants’ children residing in the collective centres where migrants are accommodated in private rooms. Moreover, the project offers Mental Health and Psychosocial Support through individual therapy sessions for survivors of trauma and violence.
The workshops are continuously adapted to the needs of their participants through the distribution of questionnaires and feedback mechanisms to obtain a grasp of the reactions of the participants who attended. For example, L. from Egypt thanked the Italian Red Cross for breaking the monotony of daily life in reception centres: “Now I am not lonely anymore. Thanks to these workshops I spoke to women I wouldn’t have spoken to. I have more friends now”. Moreover, B. from Albania stated she started to feel more relaxed and certain about her future. And A. from Honduras said: “I really appreciated this initiative because I had the opportunity to talk about myself, my dreams, and my expectations. Now I see a brighter future for my children and me.”
Learning from the national contexts through peer learning sessions that have brought together the project’s partners has also helped to strengthen national approaches through sharing good practices and collaborating to find solutions to common challenges across the different national contexts represented in the project.
Foster Action and Support to Trafficked persons (FAST)
Greece, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom
2020 - 2022
Italian Red Cross, Netherlands Red Cross, British Red Cross, CNOS FAP, International Rescue Committee, Greek Council For Refugees
This project builds on the experience of the previous AMIF transnational projects Pathways (2018 – 2020), SWIM (2018 – 2020), STEP (2017 – 2019) and Protect (2015 – 2016), which gave the possibility to practitioners from National Red Cross Societies in the EU to share experiences and work jointly on upholding their responses in recognition, protection, and integration of trafficked persons.