The government’s commitment to trafficked people has again been questioned after it emerged funding has been denied to a pioneering charity, reports Left Foot Forward’s Claire French
It was only on April 5th that Edward Garnier, the Solicitor General, told the Commons that the government would introduce a “guaranteed” £2 million a year fund to support the victims of human trafficking. Yet as the Guardian has reported, the Eaves Housing ‘Poppy Project’ has been denied funding, leaving the charity’s future “uncertain”.
The Poppy Project has provided help and support for trafficked women since 2003, with financial backing from the Ministry of Justice. Its services included accommodation, legal advice and help accessing services.
The charity was awarded two years’ funding, worth £3.9m, in 2008, which has subsequently run out. Channel 4 reported in February this year that legal action was being taken against the MoJ for an expected 40 per cent cut to funding.
Rotherham MP and former Europe minister Dennis MacShane condemned the government’s decision to award the lucrative contract to the Salvation Army:
“The idea that the vulnerable, scared women from Muslim, Orthodox, Buddhist and other cultural backgrounds who face violence and torture from their pimps and traffickers here in Britain should now be handed over to a proselytising mono-religious organisation like the Salvation Army beggars belief.
“No other women’s organisation has done such work to help trafficked women in Britain or done more to raise the profile of this modern slavery.
“I am concerned that because Poppy and its parent Eaves constitute a campaigning organisation which has not been afraid to criticise the frankly conservative Whitehall thinking on this issue, Poppy is being victimised.”
Earlier this month, Left Foot Forward reported the coalition’s revised decision to back the European Union directive on human trafficking. Cuts to services were highlighted as the real test for the commitment to ending modern slavery.
Trafficking convictions are low; services for victims should ensure support and guidance through the legal process. Cuts to detection and protection could take Britain backwards, not forwards, in the eradication of modern slavery.