On Friday 27 September 2013 Soroptimist International Lurgan, together with Upper Bann MP David Simpson, held a breakfast seminar for all principals and life-long learning teachers within the area on Human Trafficking. Very recently, the Department of Justice, together with Freedom ACTS, produced a set of six lessons for pupils in secondary and grammar education. This was part of the lobbying document that was presented to government last year at the Human Trafficking rally held at the Federation Conference in Belfast. So success for all because we had representation from 22 schools and colleges out of a possible 24 schools and colleges in the area. I must pay thank you to SI Lurgan for the hard work and efforts that went towards ensuring this was a fantastic success. Evaluation forms have been completed and an assessment of them will take place next week. We were privileged to have the Mayor of Craigavon Borough Council, the Minister for Justice David Ford, David Simpson MP, Jim Nicholson MEP with us – thank you everyone. Maureen Maguire
I list below the Presentations Documents which SI Lurgan presented on Friday 26 October 2012 at the Trafficking Rally at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast.
RALLY REPORT: STOP THE TRAFFIC —— STOP HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Men, women and children are victims of human trafficking for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labour. Migrant workers are trafficked to the UK for forced labour in agriculture, construction, domestic servitude and food services.
In May 2012, following a suggestion by Joanne Harris, a member of Soroptimist International Lurgan, the members of Lurgan Club accepted the challenge to organise a Public Rally supported by Northern Ireland Soroptimists.
As the Annual Federation Conference of Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland was taking place at The Waterfront Hall, Belfast from 25 – 27 October it was agreed that a 15 Minute Rally would be held during Conference.
Purpose of Rally
- RAISE AWARENESS of the Human Trafficking Industry in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and in many countries within the Federation.
- Make a visual stand against trafficking in Northern Ireland.
- Mobilise the women of Northern Ireland and Soroptimists attending Federation Conference in order to demonstrate solidarity against trafficking.
- To demonstrate by the use of silence the stifled voice of the victims of trafficking.
- To deliver a Presentation Document (see above) to Junior Ministers Jonathon Bell and Jennifer McCann, all MEPs, Upper Bann MP and MLAs, also All Party Group on Human Trafficking.
Rally Committee comprised of Immediate Past Regional President Hazel Holmlund who liasied with Regional Executive; Sharon McCaffrey, S.I. Ballymoney who was responsible for the social media and indeed compiled a list of over 200 groups in N.I. – a large number of which we were able to communicate with via e-mail; Elaine Molyneaux S.I. Belfast who was our contact with the Purple Teardrop Campaign, also in charge of stewarding at the Rally. Three members from S.I. Lurgan – President Jillian Patchett who produced the Project Initiation Document, Joanne Harris who was not only in charge of printing and distribution of over 1500 flyers and posters but also led the engagement with Queens’ University Students and Rosemary Fuller who was our Secretary and Risk Assessor. I acted as Chair and Conference Committee Liasion.
On Friday 26 October at 1.00 p.m. I was thrilled to see a ‘pool of purple’ outside the Waterfront Hall – purple coats, scarves, gloves, hats, hair, tights, shoes and more!! In the region of 800+ people standing as one to raise awareness of human trafficking and showing solidarity with the victims.
The Platform Party, Councillor Maire Hendron Belfast City Council; Junior Ministers Jonathon Bell and Jennifer McCann, Upper Bann MLA Basil McCrea; Johnny from Queens University, Jackie Paling APD Violence and Conflict Resolution, Sue Biggs Federation Programme Director joined Federation President Maureen Maguire and heard her outline the points in the Presentation Document which was prepared by S.I. Lurgan and handed to the Junior Ministers.
A small number of Soroptimists and representatives from other Trafficking Organisations then “Stopped the Traffic” on Oxford Street, during which time there was a Minute’s Silence. The Rally concluded.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Overall the Rally proved to be a successful event; it achieved all the aims and objectives, the amount of media coverage ensured the messages about human trafficking reached a wide audience across Northern Ireland and further afield. It also emphasised to our politicians how serious we, as Soroptimists and as an Organisation, view human trafficking. It is very encouraging that the Department of Justice has established the NGO Engagement Group on Human Trafficking and that Northern Ireland Soroptimists are asked to send a representative to this Group.
Profile of Soroptimism was raised via our face-to-face dealings with Queens’ University. Social Media also played an important role as well as the coverage via radio and television.
However, the Rally in itself is not sufficient but if I may suggest a number of tasks that can be immediately taken forward:-
- Every Club to send a Press Release and photograph to their local media.
- Every Club member to become a friend on the Facebook Page.
- Every Club to consider the Presentation Document S.I. Lurgan presented to the Junior Ministers and determine whether each Club wishes to present it, or an amended version, to their own local political representatives.
- Soroptimists to revisit the speeches at Conference, particularly that by Senator Jaffer to identify the key areas that ought to be included in any future plans for action.
Finally my thanks to Belfast City Council – Good Relations Unit which part funded this event and all the members of the Rally Committee for their hard work and dedication which ensured a successful event.
SYLVIA MARTIN, CHAIR RALLY COMMITTEE