THE EVENT – Queen’s Square Wolverhampton
3rd/4th July 2015
It was raining heavily when member Josie’s lorry arrived in Wolverhampton carrying a flat packed Box. Bilston Soroptimisters and members were waiting with a ladder, gloves and tools ready for action. After initial confusion the group, using problem solving skills, constructed a 7 feet square by 11 feet high Gift Box. We closed the door and left with a certain trepidation in case of any overnight interference.
The sun was shining at 8.30 am on Friday 3rd of July when members prepared the Box for the official opening. PC Joe Trusselle organised the setting up of the Police merchandise trailer alongside the Box providing extra security. To gain the attention of the public we employed two talented African drummers who entertained passers by. We were delighted to welcome Wolverhampton City’s Mayor and Mayoress Councillors Ian & Pearl Brookfield to formally open the Box in the presence of Midland Chase Region President, Carol Bailey, Rob Maris MP and Pat McFadden MP. The following day MP Gavin Williamson briefly visited the Box.
Prior to the event club members using their network created a bookmark highlighting signs and symptoms of Child Sexual Exploitation ( CSE) as well as information on Soroptimism and useful telephone numbers. We were grateful to club member Gill and her daughter Sarah for the design of the bookmark.
During the two days members handed out nearly 3,000 bookmarks and Stop the Traffik leaflets to raise awareness of the horrendous practice of human trafficking and in particular child sexual exploitation in Wolverhampton. In addition merchandise supplied by the Police including fuzzy bugs, erasers,pencils and snap bracelets gave many children a lot of fun. We engaged with many interesting people some of whom had heart rending stories to tell.
On Saturday morning an ITV news reporter conducted an interview with a club PA officer that was broadcast the same night. A local radio station promoted the event and the Express & Star took photographs. The event was covered on Wolverhampton City Facebook . Club members are grateful to the following sponsors for their help: West Midlands Police, Midland Power Press Services, Waitrose, Bilston Rotary Club, St.Peter’s Masonic Lodge, Rees Page (solicitors), EP Services, Wolverhampton Charitable Trust and private donations.
Fifty hours later Soroptimisters and members gathered again to dismantle the Box and load it on the lorry to be returned to Salford.
The whole event was a great success and Bilston Soroptimists, as always, enjoyed working together with a small number of friends. We know that we have raised public awareness and at least made some difference in Wolverhampton towards the elimination of human trafficking.