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The Medaille Trust

Swindon Soroptimists Supporting the Medaille Trust

49.6 million people are estimated to be trapped in some form of modern slavery in the world today, of which 75% are estimated to be women & girls. 100,000 victims are estimated, by slavery experts, to be in the UK. 7,936 potential victims were found in the UK in 2022. Figures like this have prompted Soroptimist International to make a campaign across all our clubs in the world to raise awareness of trafficking.

Local Efforts

The Swindon club wanted to get involved and investigating locally found out about the Medaille Trust via the Wiltshire PCC office and Swindon Borough Council.

The Medaille Trust exists to provide refuge and freedom to victims of modern slavery – supporting them as they rebuild their lives. Today, they are one of the largest providers of supported safe house beds for victims of modern slavery in the UK. What started in 2006 with a house for women trafficked into prostitution quickly grew into a national network supporting all people trapped in modern slavery – women, men and families.

Supplying the fidget box

In Wiltshire they have a Safehouse which has 14 women. In addition they have approximately 20 women who access support through the Moving on Project; many of those women have babies and toddlers. Swindon Soroptimists asked how we could help and Donna commented that a beneficial idea was a distraction box/fidget toys (mindful colouring, craft pack etc). Most of the women they support have suffered trauma and have anxieties and fears and these would be a lovely thing to be able to provide the women with at the weekly drop-in sessions.

By chance Swindon Club had 21 trauma teddies, beautifully knitted by member Valerie Nuttall and some fellow Bath Soroptimists, so we offered these. In March 2021 we welcomed Donna, Local coordinator – Moving on Project at the Medaille Trust, who gratefully received the teddies for their fidget box, to help the children of trafficked victims.

Donna Lovell, weighed down with supplies of Wool in 2022, including at our Taunton Regional Meeting!

Collecting knitting materials

Valerie discussed what else might be useful and Donna suggested knitting wool and needles for craft sessions. So, scouring old sewing boxes, asking friends and family and checking out charity shops, Swindon Soroptimists donated a staggering 5.6 kilos of knitting wool plus 25 sets of needles and 20 knitting patterns in August 2022. Member Valerie Nuttall also taught knitting at two workshops the Trust organised, where great fun was had by all!

Donna and her colleague Terri gave an informative talk on trafficking and the work they do at the Moving On project, at our Regional Meeting in Taunton where more wool was donated! They then asked for any material as many women prefer to sew and make bags etc. Members scoured cupboards again and three to four large bin bags worth of material were donated over the course of 2023.

We have since supported the Trust at their Trafficking event in Oct 2023, where we were delighted to see how the ladies they support had used our material and wool to make a beautiful quilt. It was much admired by the Swindon Mayor, Barbara Parry!

Donna and Jackie stand to the left of the stupendous quilt made by the clients of the Moving on Project. Lydia stands to the right, wearing a blue Soroptimist t-shirt
Members Jackie and Lydia with Donna Lovell of the Medaille Trust, with the beautiful hand-made quilt