Christmas Message from Ruth Dearnley, STOP THE TRAFFIK CEO
A GIFT BOX ISN’T JUST FOR CHRISTMAS
There’s so much to tell you and thank you for what you have helped us achieve through your words, actions and donations.
The past year has been full of many surprises for STOP THE TRAFFIK. What started with an idea over coffee amongst a group of STOP THE TRAFFIK friends has grown over the past 2 years into the GIFT box project. Since the 2012 London Games we have completed the official GIFT box Report and a few weeks ago Steve Chalke (Founder of STOP THE TRAFFIK) and I took the report to the United Nations as part of our strategic planning meeting for our future work.
So many great achievements emerged from placing 5 different GIFT boxes at street level across London. The report is available online on the STOP THE TRAFFIK website but here are some headlines of what happened:
- Over half a million people interacted with a box
- We trained nearly 400 GIFT box volunteers who stood in rain and shine talking with thousands of people as they walked in and out of the box.
- The STOP THE TRAFFIK team moved the boxes around the 20 venues driving Luton vans around London and building muscles we never knew we had.
- Our boxes were spotted near the Olympic stadiums, out at the mountain bike event, in Chinatown, on Islington High Street as the torch relay went past, by Borough market, outside the front door of Westminster Abbey and inside St Paul’s Cathedral, just to name a few.
Yet with all these months of organisation, planning and sheer hard work, the most important part was that people talked!
Some of those people were survivors of trafficking who found the box a safe place to tell a trusted GIFT box volunteer that the story being told inside the box was not just someone else’s story; it was their story. Some visitors used the Metropolitan Police helpline number to report concerns about things they had seen in their community and many more people became aware of an issue that they had not heard of until they walked into the GIFT box.
We gathered 10,000 signatories from every continent across 98 countries and those conversations have been carried back home to be continued.
All of this happened because we put a GIFT box on the street..
We are now delivering a 10 year strategy for the GIFT box project with our partners, the United Nations and London Metropolitan Police. We welcomed the Qatari Ambassador and a delegation from the Qatar Foundation in Combating Human Trafficking to the launch of the GIFT box event in London this July who are keen to work with us. We have learnt so much from 2012 and we want to take that learning around the world with people who are committed to taking action. We will keep you updated on our exciting plans.
I imagine that in nearly every home this Christmas you will find a chocolate box.
We hope that the box is full of traffik-free chocolates. Our chocolate campaign is leading global change. We are demanding that the industry delivers chocolate to its customers that are free from the use of trafficked children. This year we have seen more announcements and changes from chocolate producers and retailers but our job is not done. Our new chocolate box has been launched on the web site to give activists more information about what a company announcement really means when you read through the small print.
As other grassroots STOP THE TRAFFIK campaigns emerge and start making an impact, we are committed that our chocolate campaign will continue to be at the forefront of our activism; delivered locally and coordinated globally
Two boxes, a GIFT box and a chocolate box show the unique way STOP THE TRAFFIK works. Both offering you, me and my neighbour something to do on the street where we live and yet working alongside hundreds of thousands of neighbours whose addresses we will never know. Whether it is through STOP THE TRAFFIK national coordinators as in Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, Holland and UK, the growing number of ACT groups in places such as UK, America, Iceland and a new one launched this week in Singapore alongside thousands of people who are taking a step to be part of us through our new web site www.stopthetraffik.org.
In a year when the headlines tell us there is a recession and the purchasing power of a consumer is reduced, the profits for people traffickers are increasing and the purchase of human beings is growing.
Our work is challenging and our plans for 2013 are ambitious but we believe that it is our role to lead preventative work, gather intelligence and continue to provide creative resources and empower communities to think outside of the box and take action.
So as we unwrap our Christmas boxes and smile at the generosity and care of others for us, please remember our deep gratitude for your continuing support for us.
And together we will remember the words on the inside of the GIFT box that people read as they walk out……
“There is a way out of the box.”
Together we will STOP THE TRAFFIK
Ruth Dearnley, CEO STOP THE TRAFFIK