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History of SIYAMS

 

How did it begin?

In 2005 Sylvia Wilson, SI Bingley and Chair of Yorkshire Region Programme Action Committee, planned a Study Day which was then held in Richmond Yorkshire. Its theme was Modern Day Slavery. Out of this event SI Yorkshire Anti-Slavery Sub Group (ASSG) was born. This was later renamed SI Yorkshire Anti-Slavery Group (ASG) and subsequently Soroptimist International of Yorkshire Against Modern Slavery (SIYAMS).

What has been achieved so far?

2007

  • Purple Ribbon Campaign which raised funds to support victims of trafficking

2008

  • In collaboration with Stop the Traffik 100 Yorkshire Soroptimist marched through York to raise awareness of people trafficking.
  • Received the International Soroptimist Award for work on ‘Action on Modern Day Slavery’.
  • Distributed a “Gents” toilet sticker that challenged perpetrators to make different decisions before engaging in prostitution.

2009-2011

  • The ‘Loves Me, Loves Me Not’ bookmarks developed to help women and girls recognise the signs of good and bad relationships.
  • In collaboration with the police department, UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC), raised awareness about human trafficking and grooming for sexual exploitation.
  • The Home Office and Equality for Human Rights Commission raised awareness of domestic abuse, and mapped out gaps in the provision of services for victims.
  • Supported the White Ribbon Campaign. The campaign encourages men to wear a white ribbon to show their opposition to violence against women.
  • Encouraged and supported all SI Yorkshire clubs to hold their own awareness raising events on 25th November.

2012

  • Developed a relationship with a local Muslim community group with a view to raising awareness about women’s right to be free from domestic abuse.
  • Held a regional event about forced marriage with guest speaker Ann Cryer (former MP for Keighley and a member of SI Keighley)
  • Invited to Hull University’s Fresher’s Fayre at its campus in Scarborough, to raise awareness about safe relationships.
  • Presented our work on grooming to:
    • Co-operative Membership Conferences in Scarborough and York
    • Co-operative Membership IWD event in Leeds
    • Scarborough and Harrogate Domestic Abuse Forums.
  • Expanded the need of a wider audience for freedom from domestic abuse and sexual exploitation by developing our ‘Loves Me, Loves Me Not’ resources into fliers, posters and wallet sized cards.
  • Supported West Yorkshire Probation Services in the development of domestic abuse resources for its clients.
  • Participated in a TV documentary with PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation) about the need for partnership working in the fight against grooming.
  • Established a relationship with the NSPCC with a view to safeguarding young people against sexual exploitation

2013

  • Hosted a half day conference at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, attended by delegates from various agencies and organisations involved in child protection.
  • Anti-Slavery Day was marked at a Sheffield shopping centre by hosting a UN.GIFT (United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking) box . The box was developed by Stop the Traffik in conjunction with UN.GIFT to raise awareness about human trafficking. It is a kiosk, which, on the outside, looks like a beautiful gift, but once inside, the public are confronted with the realities of human trafficking and sexual exploitation through written experiences of (mostly) women who are trafficked to western Europe by enticements of a better life.
  • Developed a teaching pack to support the use of the UN.GIFT box. It includes PSHE lessons for pupils in KS3 and KS4 and is based on resources provided by ‘Stop the Traffik’.

2014

  • Hosted our first full day conference at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds entitled ‘Grooming for sexual exploitation – Together we can make a difference’, to promote partnership working between the various agencies involved in this work. Attended by delegates from various organisations who used the Conference as a training facility. The Co-operative Membership provided funding for a USB stick for each delegate, onto which we downloaded safeguarding resources for use in various situations.
  • Attended Freshers’ Fayres at 3 Universities at the start of the autumn term, where we raised awareness about coercive control in relationships. and distributed the ‘Loves Me Loves Me Not’ resources.
  • Invited to distribute the bookmarks etc at an event held by Wakefield College with a view to extend this work in the future.
  • Supplied bookmarks in 23 Co-operative pharmacies around N Yorkshire and beyond.
  • Bookmarks distributed in secondary schools in North Yorkshire (funded by the Co-op)

2015

  • First full day conference ‘Safeguarding – Challenging Attitudes – Opening Minds’ held at Thorpe Park Hotel, Leeds with approximately 100 delegates from various agencies, organisations and Soroptimist International.
  • Invited to attend Freshers’ Fairs at universities and colleges at Trinity, Leeds, Scarborough, York, Selby, Huddersfield, where bookmarks were distributed and display boards raising awareness of relationships were used.
  • Links with CEOP (Child Exploitation Online Protection) with increased evidence of online grooming and sexting

2016

  • Freshers’ Fairs at universities and colleges in Leeds (Trinity) Huddersfield, York, Selby, Shipley, Keighley, Beverley. Invitations from some colleges to give further training on relationships in college lectures
  • ‘Friends’ bookmarks developed by a school and SI Bingley to be used in Primary Schools and lower secondary. They highlight good friendships in green on one side, and poor friendships in red on the other side.

2017

  • Full day Conference at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in November entitled ‘Failing our Children? Shattering Secrets; Rebuilding Lives’, attended by approximately 80 delegates from various organisations.
  • More clubs became involved in local Freshers’ Fairs. Same venues as in 2016
  • Promoted Christina Gabbitas’s book ‘Share Some Secrets’ which helps younger children to be aware of sexual abuse (Christina is a children’s poet and author from Selby)
  • Invited to the Wilberforce Museum in Hull to set up a display on Anti-slavery Day to raise awareness of Modern Slavery including online grooming, sexting and dangers of social media.

2018

  • Raising awareness at Freshers’ Fairs now well established across the Region
  • Worked alongside the Regional Programme Action campaign ‘Ask for Angela’; a scheme being rolled out nationally as a way for women to access safety in potentially frightening situations in pubs and other hospitality venues
  • Teaching packs developed to accompany the ‘Friends’ bookmarks. All clubs given a pack which could be photocopied for their local schools.

2019

  • Worked with Christina Gabbitas at her Conference ‘Reach Out, Speak Out’ which had a focus on Grooming and County Lines (using young people for drug running)
  • Anti-slavery Day events on 18th October in various venues – the Brunswick Shopping Centre, Scarborough, Kirkgate Market Leeds, St John’s Centre, Leeds, and on 17th October at Tesco. Garforth, Leeds.
  • Freshers’ Fairs at 6th Form colleges across the Region, but no universities.

2020

  • No events because of Covid 19.
  • Promoted the use of 55 following a 999 call to alert the operator that a person was in danger, on Social Media.
  • Promoted a Power Point Presentation on Social Media, to raise awareness of ‘Orange the World’ during the 16 Days of Activism.
  • All meetings of the group took place on zoom.

2021

  • SIYAMS website was brought up to date
  • Work on a third bookmark began in partnership with young people in schools.