A GIFT Box full of promises of good wages and a better future for struggling families will appear on Chichester Cathedral Green this week.
The box, set to be placed on Anti-Slavery Day by South West Sussex ACT (Active Communities against Trafficking), symbolises the false promises human traffickers use to lure their victims and trap them in modern-day slavery.
As part of the awareness campaign, the group has released details of a homeless man recruited by traffickers when they offered him work in exchange for a place to stay and wages.
At first it sounded like the answer to his problems, but his accommodation turned out to be a ‘filthy’ caravan with no sanitation.
His toilet was a nearby field and he was made to work 16 hours a day, six or seven days a week,
Some weeks he was paid very little and others not at all.
It was only when he ventured into Chichester city centre on a rare day off that he got talking to a woman who recognised he was a victim of human trafficking.
She took him to Chichester police station to get help and support.
“This is a story of success but, unfortunately too many victims are not recognised,” said ACT co-ordinator Helen Perry.
Anti-Slavery Day, on Friday, October 18, kicks off a three-day event on Chichester Cathedral Green raising awareness of human trafficking.
It has been organised by ACT in partnership with LouLou Morris, artist-in-residence at Chichester Cathedral, to tackle the ‘hidden problem’ of the district.
Police community support officer Lisa Shadbolt said: “We will continue to work in partnership with ACT to raise awareness of this important topic.
“We will also have a social media campaign running, be distributing literature and posters and educating in public places, schools and businesses.
“Anti Slavery Day will help to highlight the work that Sussex Police do on a daily basis.”
As well as hosting the GIFT box, the three-day event will include ‘slave-free’ chocolate tasting and LouLou will be creating a lipstick fingerprint painting, made with contributions from residents as a sign they want trafficking to stop.
To close the event, thousands of biodegradable ‘seeds’ will be released from the Cathedral Tower on Sunday, October 20, at 4.30pm.
“Our hope is that this event will empower ordinary members of the community to recognise the signs of human trafficking and feel confident to report intelligence to the police,” said Helen.
“This will help victims be released from the inhumane degradation and exploitation they are subjected to.”
Anyone who suspects trafficking can call on 101 or 999 in an emergency, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.