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Action to reduce Child Sexual Exploitation

Gift Box in Queen's Square


Last August Bilston club PA officers began to pursue the hosting of a United Nations/Stop the Traffik Gift Box to raise awareness in Wolverhampton of the horrendous practice of Human Trafficking.  After a visit to SI Bristol to experience first hand the Gift Box, club members agreed to have a go!.  Ten months on we are one week away from collecting and constructing the Box which is 7 feet square by 11 feet high.

In preparation for the event we invited Kerry Scarlett, Director of ADAVU, a charity working to fight Human Trafficking and PC Joe Trusselle from West Midlands Police to train members in the signs and symptoms of Child Sexual Exploitation.  They gave us some very valuable information as well as excellent tips on how to man the BOX.

Kerry Scarlett ,Director ADAVU

We are working closely with West Midlands Police, Adavu and Stop The Traffik and we have talked to other Soroptimist Clubs who have hosted a Gift Box. It has taken many months and hours of planning but all will be worthwhile as long as the weather is as promised and we can engage with as many members of the public as possible. Come and see us in Queen’s Square Wolverhampton on Friday or Saturday 3rd, 4th July between 10am and 4pm. The Mayor of Wolverhampton will open the Gift Box at 10am on Friday and passers by will be entertained by an African drummer.

In order to help fund the project we received sponsorship from several people /organisations whom we thank for their generosity. In addition we submitted an application to Waitrose Community Matters scheme and we were successful. Bilston Soroptimists are exceedingly grateful to the partners at Penn Waitrose store and in particular Sharon Reznik who manages the scheme and the Store Manager James Aldridge. The photograph shows the presentation of the cheque.

L to R Sharon Reznik, President Pat, James Aldridge Store manager & Sue Orton, Joint PA officer.

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.

Which bit first!
The Official opening, Mayor,Mayoress, MPs Rob Maris & Pat McFadden & Region President Carol.
Mayor joins the drummers.
Bilston's PA Officers with the Mayor.
Showing off the new HiVis waistcoat.