Tuesday, 25th February 2020

Young people affected by child trafficking have formed a new group to steer the work of ECPAT UK and advocate for the voices, views and experiences of survivors to lead anti-trafficking work.

Comprised of former members of ECPAT UK’s youth programme for victims of child trafficking, the new youth advisory group will play a strategic role in the organisation’s work; setting their priorities for the organisation’s activities and direction.

Members of the youth advisory group will shape ECPAT UK’s campaigning agenda and wider strategy, participate in research and social media, learn new skills such as public speaking as experts by experience, and become public spokespeople for the charity’s work.

At the first youth advisory group session this month, the young people set out their priorities for ECPAT UK, including working with the media to end the use of harmful imagery and language in reporting on trafficking, helping professionals understand how they impact young people, lobbying MPs for the right to work and much more!

Across all of ECPAT UK’s work, the young people expressed a strong desire to be given space to speak for themselves, in a way that is safe.

Batseba Asefaw, Youth Coordinator at ECPAT UK, said

“The youth advisory group was born of the wishes of young people who have been a member of the youth programme for some time and feel ready to have a more active role in ECPAT UK’s campaigns, as well as former members who have moved on with their lives but want to continue advocating for the rights of young victims.

“We wanted to ensure participation of young people is organic and relevant to all aspects of our work. Creating a consistent space for the voices of our group members to be heard allows ECPAT UK to be genuinely youth-led.

“Having a separate advisory group not only ensures youth participation is meaningful, as the young people feed into all elements of ECPAT UK’s work, but that it is ethical as our peer support groups remain appropriate for more vulnerable young people.”

John*, a member of the youth advisory group, shared some of his priorities for the group's work with the media:

"I don't want to see photos of young people in chains in the news when they are talking about trafficking. This is not how it is for most people who go through it."

Temi Adekoya, Youth Group Assistant at ECPAT UK, said

“It was so interesting to see group members put forward the idea to write to their local MP. They stated the changes they want to see based on their experiences as unaccompanied children who were exploited both within the UK and on their journeys.

“This suggestion came as result of earlier campaigning workshops we facilitated in October last year. The group members were previously not aware that they could contact their MP and were initially reluctant to use this channel to address some of the issues they face as young people with lived experience.

“It was a pleasant surprise to see the group put forward this suggestion, and even more special to see how passionate and committed they were to ensuring their voices are heard.”       

Press contact
Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager, ECPAT UK, [email protected], 020 7607 2136 or 07402 113 985  

*Name changed to protect the young person's identity